Ashe County has taken its commitment to cleanliness to the next level.
Last week, the county became a certified affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, and the framed certificate was presented in a ceremony on the courthouse porch.
“Today is a culmination of several years of work,” said Elaine Graham, volunteer executive director of Keep Ashe Beautiful.
That work included organizing the local group, creating bylaws, electing a board, and developing a mission statement – and they adopted the national organization’s mission statement. And a litter index of the county’s problem areas was developed along with a similar index for the New River.
The board members represent various aspects of Ashe County, Graham said, including business, government, volunteer and civic organizations.
“I want to thank everyone for making this a special day for Ashe County,” Graham said.
Graham accepted the certificate along with co-chairs of the board, Gwynita Steele and Joe Slade, from Jennie Stultz of Keep America Beautiful. They were also joined by Brenda Ewadinger from Keep NC Beautiful.
Ewadinger said she was thoroughly impressed with the energy of the local group.
Stultz, who said she has been with the national organization for 25 years, said she, too, was impressed by the enthusiasm of the local volunteers. “This is a county you want to keep beautiful and do what you have to, to enhance that,” she said.
Ashe County Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Keep Ashe Beautiful as the site for people to get information about the local affiliate. Stultz said Ashe County members will find connections with others throughout the country and world in their efforts.
Local co-chairs Steele and Slade both remarked on the enthusiasm put into this effort as well as the talent of the board members.
According to their website, kab.org, “Keep America Beautiful, Inc. is the nation’s largest volunteer-based community action and education organization. With a network of more than 1,200 affiliate and participating organizations, KAB forms public-private partnerships and programs that engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community’s environment.”
“Keep America Beautiful combines education with hands-on stewardship to make America’s communities cleaner, greener, safer, and more livable. KAB programs activate millions of volunteers each year in hands-on community improvement activities, where they learn how to take personal responsibility for improving their local community environments.”
The organization reports that for every dollar invested by local government, affiliates return an average of $22 on the investment. Becoming an affiliate provides significant grant opportunities for creating and expanding local programs. KAB’s brochure states that in the past few years, affiliates have received grants and in-kind services valued at more than $10 million. Examples can be found at kab.org/grants.
Work on the ground through the national organization, and Keep NC Beautiful, focuses on the mission through litter prevention, recycling and waste reduction, and beautification and community greening. Local organizations such as the National Committee for the New River and Adopt-a-Highway can work with Keep Ashe Beautiful to meet the goals of a cleaner and healthier community.
“Becoming a KAB affiliate,” reads the organization’s brochure, “requires a commitment from citizens, businesses, public officials, and civic leaders to work together in identifying local concerns and applying KAB’s five step approach: getting the facts, involving the people, planning systematically, focusing on results, and providing positive reinforcement.”
Find out more through the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce at 846-9550 or www.ashechamber.com.