As tends to happen this time of year, lawns around the Illinois Valley become covered with fallen leaves.

Beginning on Monday, La Salle residents will join those from Peru and Oglesby in having the benefit of curbside leaf collection.

"One of the biggest issues I heard as an alderman and as a resident is, ‘Why is La Salle not doing it?'" La Salle mayor Jeff Grove said.

While logistical details are expected to be required throughout this first season of leaf collection, Grove expects the new service to please residents.

In the past residents have had the options to burn leaves or bag them in special yard waste bags for garbage pick-up.

Grove said the new service will cut down on leaf burning, which has caused some residents to raise questions of health concerns when large amounts of smoke blow through some neighborhoods.

Grove isn't ready to take away the burning option.

"Some people still prefer to burn and we're not going to ban that," Grove said. Leaf burning can only be done from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., but not less than 24 hours after a rain storm.

Unlike other local communities, the La Salle leaf service will only be offered by appointment for the first year.

Grove said residents who want leaves collected should call City Hall, (815) 223-3755, to be placed on the city's collection schedule. All leaves are to be placed near the curb but not on the roadway. Leaf collection will continue until Dec. 1.

Although borrowing the city of Peru's leaf vacuum truck has been discussed previously, there is yet to be any formal cooperative contract created between the two cities. For the time being, Grove said La Salle will likely use the city's street sweeper and potentially its sewer vacuum truck to handle the job.

He said the city council may consider appropriating money for a leaf vacuum truck in the future.

"Be patient. This is the first year. We're going to get better at it as we go," Grove said, as a message to residents.

In Peru, leaf collection was stalled as the city waited for the Route 251 bridge to reopen after repainting this summer, because the city's compost site is south of the river, and workers make trips back and forth during pickup season.

Collection is under way and will continue with a daily schedule until at least the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

"As long as there's no snow we try to take care of it," Peru public works superintendent Gary Bleck said.

As in La Salle, Bleck requests that residents keep their leaf piles on their curb, not on the road, and only to place leaves in the pile.

On occasion, residents have attempted to hide other waste, such as ashes and trash, beneath their piles, Bleck said.

Peru's horticulturist Mike Watts was raking leaves into the city's vacuum truck earlier this week and offered some first-hand advice on optimal leaf pile preparation.

Piles should be as long and narrow as possible, running parallel to the street, he said, but not near poles or street signs. Similarly, residents shouldn't park in front of leaf piles because they block the vacuum truck from reaching the leaves.

Peru's leaf collection schedule:

- Monday: Fourth Street north from the west side of Calhoun Street to city's western limits

- Tuesday: Fourth Street north from the east side of Peoria Street to Route 251

- Wednesday: East side of Calhoun Street to west side of Peoria Street

- Thursday: West side of Pulaski Street to Route 251 and Fourth Street south from the east side of Peoria Street to Route 251

- Friday: East side of Pulaski Street to city's eastern limits and Fourth Street south from the west side of Calhoun Street to city's western limits.

Oglesby's leaf collection schedule:

- Monday/Tuesday: North of Walnut Street to Morris Street and the east of Columbia Avenue to Field Avenue, including California Avenue.

- Wednesday: Fitzgerald Street north to Crock Street, the area bordering Richard Moyle Sr. Highway north to Mormon Street, west of Columbia Avenue to Lewis Avenue, including Cedar Creek subdivision and W. Walnut Street trailer court, and all streets east and north of Portland Avenue to the eastern city limits.

- Thursday: south of Walnut Street to Third Street, east of Columbia Avenue to Watson Avenue and south to Deerpath Road.

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