Task Force considers launching local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful

Published 9:07 am Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye  Missy Marshall, executive director of Keep Tennessee Beautiful, speaks to members of the Carter County Tourism Task Force about the benefits of becoming a Keep Tennessee Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful affiliate.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
Missy Marshall, executive director of Keep Tennessee Beautiful, speaks to members of the Carter County Tourism Task Force about the benefits of becoming a Keep Tennessee Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful affiliate.

A movement to help preserve the natural beauty of Carter County by educating the public and cleaning up the highways and byways continues to gain momentum as the Carter County Tourism Task Force discussed becoming an affiliate of the Keep America Beautiful program.
Carter County Proud founder Ed Jordan has approached various community members and leaders about creating a partnership to launch a local affiliate of the KAB program. He had previously garnered the support of Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey and County Commissioner Cody McQueen, who chairs the Tourism Task Force. On Monday evening, the Task Force heard from Missy Marshall, the KAB state leader for Tennessee as well as the executive director of Keep Tennessee Beautiful, which is the state affiliate for KAB.
After hearing about the benefits of creating an affiliate program and learning what all the state and national programs can provide to local affiliates, members of the Task Force voiced their support for founding a local affiliate program.
Improving the appearance of a community by cleaning up and preventing litter can have a number of impacts, Marshall said, especially in the realms of tourism and economic development and recruitment.
“It’s like having people come over,” she explained, adding that tourism can be like having house guests. “You clean up before they get here and clean up again after they leave.”
She shared a story that had previously been shared with her about an economic developer in Louisiana who was giving a tour to a prospective industrial leader. Not long after leaving the airport, the visitor told the developer to turn the car around and take him back to the airport. When the developer asked why, the visitor responded that the litter on the roads showed the community did not take pride in itself so why should he locate his employees and business in such a community.
By helping to present the best possible community image, Marshall said the county can not only boost tourism but could boost economic development as well.
One of the most important keys to community beautification, Marshall said, is community education.
“If we don’t educate people to not put it there, we’re going to be pickup up litter for the rest of our lives,” she said.
That is why KAB and KTnB tackle the idea of litter with a multi-faceted approach, focusing on education as well as litter prevention and pickup while helping to coordinate the efforts of community groups already in place under one umbrella.
If the Tourism Task Force elects to launch an affiliate, Marshall said there would be a one-time certification fee which would be around $2,000. That fee can be paid for through the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Litter Grant Program, which Carter County is already a part of. After that, each year the affiliate would have to be an annual membership fee which would range between $150-$250.
Robin Cleary, director of local affiliate Keep Kingsport Beautiful, also attended the meeting and she said her annual fee of $200 is well worth the investment.
“I get more Glad trash bags and bottled water from Keep Tennessee Beautiful than I could with the $200,” she said.
Cleary also told the Task Force that having the affiliate opens up additional grant funding for the community.
“I’ve gotten a lot of grants through Keep America Beautiful,” she said. “The money is out there.”
Task Force member Jon Hartman, who is the director of Planning and Development for the City of Elizabethton, asked Marshall what the staffing requirements were in order to become an affiliate. Marshall said there are no requirements and some affiliates had paid staff while some operated on a strictly volunteer basis.
While there are no strict requirements, Marshall said her favorite model for an affiliate is like the operation of Keep Kingsport Beautiful, which is set up under the umbrella of the Chamber of Commerce.
Some on the Task Force agreed that the Chamber of Commerce seemed like a good fit as the overseeing agency for a local affiliate if one is launched.
Hartman attempted to make a motion to have the Chamber proceed with the steps to begin developing a structure for a local affiliate, but McQueen reminded the group that as a Task Force they could make no decisions on their own.
However, McQueen said he would set up a meeting with Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce Director Tonya Stevens, who was not able to attend Monday’s meeting, to speak with her and see if the Chamber would be interested in being the parent organization for a local KAB affiliate. If the Chamber is agreeable to the idea, McQueen said the Task Force could proceed from there.

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