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As students move out, towns deal with what is left behind

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By CYNTHIA McCLOUD

For The State Journal

College students throughout West Virginia have been taking final exams and packing their cars to move home for the summer.

Meanwhile, some cities and the major universities located there are planning ways to manage the trash and cast-off belongings students leave behind when they get out of town.

At Marshall University in Huntington, 2,400 students live in 10 residence halls, said John Yaun, Marshall’s director of housing and residence life.

“Of the 2,100 first-year students attending each fall, about 1,300 live on campus and the other 800 live off-campus,” Yaun said. “Each year during the closing of the residence halls in May, Housing and Residence Life partners with Goodwill in order to donate any items left that students no longer want or need.

“Also, large dumpsters are placed near each residence hall for students to dispose of trash and other discarded items. We also have recycling containers in each hall to recycle items.”

The City of Morgantown, trash hauler Republic Services, West Virginia University and other local entities have been partnering for several years to dispose of things students leave behind.

Of WVU’s 29,500 students, only about 5,800 live in university-owned housing, said Corey Farris, WVU’s dean of students and director of housing.

Some of the rest may live in complexes where the landlords take care of trash pickup. But students who pay their own trash bills need to know they can’t put certain items by the curb on their regular pickup day, said Susan Sullivan, public communications manager for the City of Morgantown.

“To remedy the inevitable overflow of toters (trash bins) near residences, Republic and the city use the Student Move-Out Dumpster Program,” Sullivan said.

Twelve dumpsters are placed in student-dense neighborhoods such as on Grant, Beverly and McLane avenues in Sunnyside. They were scheduled to be regularly emptied from April 28-May 4 and removed starting May 5. There are restrictions: carpet, car parts, batteries, computers, air conditioners, paints and tires are some of the things that can’t be thrown away. TVs have to be taken to PC Renewal on Grafton Road.

The city issues a press release, but WVU’s help is key to spreading the word to students.

“The other thing we do is we send this information home to parents,” Farris said. “WVU’s got the Mountaineer Parents Club that sends newsletters talking about the Blue & Gold Mine Sale and the extra dumpsters as well as collection trailers for furniture such as couches and other things.”

On campus, the university educates students how to clean their rooms, turn in their keys and move out of the residence halls, Farris said. Part of that is also making sure those students know they can give unwanted items to the Blue & Gold Mine Sale by taking it to collection points in the dorms.

This is the 10th year for the Blue and Gold Mine rummage sale that benefits the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties. WVU students and community members can donate unwanted furniture, clothes, linens, bedding, rugs, lamps, desks, books and other items that don’t include TVs or computer monitors. The rummage sale has six residence hall collection points and seven locations in town.

Since the sale, which is modeled after sales at other universities, started in 2005, it has raised more than $100,000 — $15,000 of that last year, according to Traci Knabenshue, who helps organize the sale.

“Last year we kept over 27 tons of material out of landfills and gave it second homes,” Knabenshue said. “Some of our most popular items are organization and storage items, vacuum cleaners and furniture.

“We usually have about 600 people in line before gates open at 7 a.m.”

This year’s sale is scheduled for May 17 in the East Concourse at Milan Puskar Stadium. Admission is free to those who enter after 8:30 a.m. Early-bird shoppers can pay $4 to get through the gates starting at 7 a.m. for a head start on the sales.