The newly formed Keep Ashe Beautiful (KAB) group has only one objective – to keep Ashe beautiful; something that’s easy to say, but harder to do.
“Everyone appreciates that Ashe County is one of the most beautiful counties in North Carolina (some may even say the USA). However, each of you has travelled around this wonderful area and seen trash lying around,” said Gwynita Steele, Keep Ashe Beautiful’s project director.
“Why is there trash on our highways, in our fields, in the parking lots, especially when we have so many easily accessible trash and recycle centers?” asked Steele.
According to Steele, Keep Ashe Beautiful is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, a nationwide nonprofit group that focuses on making communities “cleaner, greener, and more livable.” Steele said the Keep Ashe Beautiful team plans to beautify the county in two ways.
The first “proactive” approach is to make sure everyone knows the locations of garbage and recycling sites.
For the second “reactive” approach, the KAB team plans to organize litter sweeps and encourage Ashe County residents to participate.
Steele said the KAB project has made “tremendous strides” so far.
In just three months, the Keep Ashe Beautiful campaign has already organized two litter sweeps, received a small grant from Sonoco, distributed awareness literature to the Ashe Chamber and the library presented materials to the Westwood, Blue Ridge, and Mountain View Elementary schools, secured recycling bins for West Jefferson Park, and publicized garbage and recycling locations.
The KAB project has also provided free tarps at local convenience centers to encouraged pickup truck owners to secure the trash on their truck beds. Steele says this will combat one of the major sources of the county’s litter - items that blow off of pickup truck beds.
According to Steele, the KAB project is more important than just making Ashe County look better for locals. There is an important financial aspect to the project as well.
“Tourism plays a big in our economy now, so it’s increasingly important to put our best foot forward so people will want to come back,” said Steele.
In addition, the KAB team actively supported the national and state sponsored “America Recycles Day” in November, engaging students and others to promote recycling.
“One of our goals is to make recycling easier for the people in Ashe County. I would like to see it become second nature for people,” said Steele.
With these accomplishments over the past three months, the KAB team sets its sights on the next year.
“From March through October 2013, we will support litter sweeps every month with resident participation,” said Steele.
To do this, the KAB team has asked locals to nominate areas that need attention.
KAB plans to provide safety vests, gloves and water for everyone willing to participate in the litter sweeps next year. Steele said these litter sweeps will make a good opportunity for Ashe County High School students who are trying to fulfill their volunteer hours.
Steele also said KAB plans to publicize the progress they are making, and how citizens can help make this effort possible, through newspapers and radio.
Anyone who wants to nominate an area for a litter sweep in 2013, please contact Steele at 846-8276, and KAB will work out all of the details with you.