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NEWPORT NEWS - This is the first day of loose leaf collection in Newport News.

From now until January 18, 2013, the city will pick up leaves which are raked and left in piles at the curb, whether they're bagged or not.

The city says it tried to end this service two years ago and residents complained, so it continues this year.

Street maintenance personnel are pulled off of their regular duties like pothole repair during this period to do leaf collection.

The city has been divided into three areas and each will get two passes with the equipment.

Since the task requires special equipment, city officials now are thinking they might not replace items once they stop working.

When that happens, leaves will have to be bagged before being taken away.

City officials say it costs about $150,000 in operationing expenses for the machines. That number does not include employee pay.

The City of Williamsburg also provides free leaf collection from November through the second week in January. The leaves are vacuumed and ground into mulch for use by the Landscaping Department. The 2012-2013 collections began the week of November. The City is divided into two routes -- Red and Blue --and there are five collections for each route. Click here for that schedule.

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