Courier Staff Writer
As the holiday season wraps up with just one party left on New Year’s Eve, local law enforcement and city staff are thankful this year’s holidays have passed by without incident.
Deputy Fire Chief Cory Benge said there were no big incidents over the holiday weekend other than power lines down due to last week’s storm.
“Usually there are kitchen fires or some incidents with the greased turkey fryers where they don’t get the turkey quite thawed out, drop it in the hot grease and it causes a fire,” Benge said. “As it gets colder, we’ll have attic fires, where people plug in space heaters, bring in too many amps and cause electrical fires in attics.”
Jody Gates, director of health, inspections and solid waste, said Christmas trees are part of normal trash collection during the month of January and should be placed on the curb next week.
Next week, as well as the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, trash will be collected on Thursday.
“Trees should be free of tinsel and ornaments,” Gates said. “Even if you put it in a plastic bag so you don’t drop needles all over your house, remove the bag and put it in the trash. We can’t compost the bag.”
Bridge City Sanitation will also collect artificial Christmas trees, though they are considered a bulky item.
“If you can’t fit in the trash can, call Bridge City and they will put you on the bulky item collection list,” Gates said.
Residents can call 641-682-1700 to be placed on the bulky item list.
“It was a fairly decent timing of Christmas when it comes to trash collection, actually,” Gates said. “We just picked up yard waste and bulky items on Tuesday, and we didn’t have a huge upheaval in the trash collection schedule for our customers, which is always wonderful.”
Benge said it’s important for everyone to get Christmas trees out of their house.
“Get them outside, get them on the curb. They are a big fire hazard,” he said.
Ottumwa Police Lt. Tom McAndrew said nothing exciting happened over the holiday weekend.
“There’s nothing real earth-shattering to report,” McAndrew said. “It seemed like an average year. The investigations unit wasn’t called out for anything other than a stolen vehicle.”
While McAndrew said intoxication arrests may increase around New Year’s Eve, they’re nothing extraordinary. He said staying safe and out of trouble during the holidays is pretty simple.
“Don’t get intoxicated and don’t drive while drunk,” McAndrew said. “Normally New Year’s is fairly quiet. Everyone has designated drivers. Hopefully I’m not jinxing us, but it’s usually pretty quiet.”
Benge also said Operation Sparky Claus was a success this year, with more gifts streaming in than the firefighters knew what to do with.
“We had people turning us away because they had too many toys,” Benge said.
The toys go to Salvation Army, Working Man’s Christmas, Hope House and other organizations, as well as to people who stop by the fire stations.
Since people also donated cash, Benge said the Ottumwa Fire Department reached out to the Ottumwa schools and bought winter coats for children in need.
“We’re going to make it bigger and better every year,” Benge said.