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Fargo does it right. In my city, they still have a stupid ordinance making it a crime to take trash off the curbs. No one is ever prosecuted, so they should just change the law, I say.

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One man's trash ...

Cleanup Week attracts brigades of junk recyclers

By Helmut Schmidt hschmidt@forumcomm.com

In the war against clutter, Fargo homeowners have been hauling the contents of their garages and basements to the boulevards for today's start of Cleanup Week.
Which has brought out another crew: The Ad-hoc Mobile Free-lance Recycling Brigade.
Derided by some as scavengers, praised by packrats as keepers of the faith, this hardy crew spent Sunday dodging raindrops and filling pickups and trailers with everything from scrap metal to unrecognized antiques.
If President Bush wants to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, these are the guys he should hire. They're hometaught experts on finding the gold in junkpile dross.
It was 3:30 p.m. and Wayne Klatt and his friends, Terry Renecker and Tom Gustafson, were slowly cruising down Oak Street on the north side, looking to top off their third load of the day.
"I got dishes for my son, a radio, some furniture," said Klatt, who's been an AMFRB member for several years.
Renecker, a first-timer on the trash vs. treasure scene, clutched a set of encyclopedias. She said they also picked up a pump for a hot tub. "Just a few chairs and we can have a party," she joked.
"It's not to make money," piped in Gustafson. "We like to tinker," Klatt said. "We've got a lot of friends," Gustafson continued. "If they can use it, we give it to 'em." On the 400 block of 25 th Avenue North, Ken and Richard Gruer of West Fargo homed in on their specialty: an abandoned gas grill. "We just started," said Ken Gruer, tossing the grill into a trailer with six others.
The Gruers plan to take the aluminum grills to a recycler for $25 a ton. Three lawnmowers also get space in the trailer.
"I just watch for certain ones. The engines sometimes work," Ken Gruer said.
That's where the tinkerer comes out in the younger Gruer. "I build mini bikes" with the engines, Richard Gruer said.
Farther north, a shyer junk aficionado in a brown jacket and seed cap picked through a prodigious pile of scrap wood and appliances with a buddy. Their rusty red pickup was nearly full, with a snowthrower, exercise bike and a steam cleaner poking up through a raft of other items.
"Bikes, engine parts, motors, lumber, just about anything. You name it, it's in there. You'd be surprised at what people throw out," said the man in brown.
He declined to give his name, saying. "I know too many people up here."
He said people can make cash if they have a good eye. Most of what he finds is garage-sale quality, but once he found a carnival glass bowl and candy dish. They "booked out at $300 apiece," he said.
"I got my grandson's first BB gun off the boulevard," the man in brown said. "My nephew one year found a laptop computer. It had a virus in it and he got it removed. It works fine."
Homeowner Victor Martinez doesn't care where his junk ends up ? as long as it's gone.
"I tell you, there was so much," Martinez said, taking a breather from cleaning out his garage at 2702 Elm St. with his son, Garrick. "You wait and wait on it, and then you have so much." Martinez is happy Fargo is taking his tree branches, boards and other junk, calling Cleanup Week "magnificent." Though, he still has a soft spot for some items. "That?s good wood," Martinez said, looking at the pile. "I'm sure some of it will be gone by morning. "You offer the stuff to people and they'll say 'I'll come out and look at it,' Then, nothing. "But then you put it on the curb (and it's gone) -- The human equation. Go figure," Martinez said. "One man's trash is another man's treasure." But he, too, understands the powerful lure of the boulevard bargain basement. "I saw a sofa that was great," Martinez said. "But where am I going to put it?"




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