Workshop planned as boost to beautification campaign

Monday, March 20, 2006

A representative from Keep America Beautiful Inc. will hold a workshop Monday for community representatives set to lead the area's campaign for beautification and against litter.

"It's all about the perception of safety, beauty, cleanliness and those things will help the economic indicators of a community," said Sue Smith, the KAB national trainer who will run the workshop.

Jones will give a one-hour overview of the program and then group leaders will break out to discuss strategies.

The local effort for Keep America Beautiful affiliation has joined Cape Girardeau city and county officials with Jackson, Scott City and Southeast Missouri State representatives. This joint effort is unusual because most designations are given to individual cities.

Smith said her tutorial will give leaders the necessary tools to combat community deterioration.

"I'm also going to give them some homework," she said. The homework will come in the form of evaluating four factors: education, technology, ordinances and enforcement.

Some of the more tangible assignments will include forming a litter index to track litter hot spots and conducting a solid waste survey to determine where waste is illegally dumped in the area.

"We believe that litter and garbage and graffiti are downward spiral indicators which can adversely affect the perception of a community," said Smith. "So we're just thrilled that those who care this much have already put in so much work to move forward and be successful in this campaign."

City public information manager Tracey Glenn said these steps will be necessary in Cape Girardeau. "You see people flicking out cigarette butts all the time," she said. "It's not as big an issue as it used to be, but we have problem areas, people seem to flick out a butt and not even realize it's trash."

Glenn said the affiliation with Keep America Beautiful is a natural outgrowth of Cape Girardeau's anti-litter campaign and the joint Jackson-Cape Girardeau campaign to be litter-free in time for Libertyfest.

More than 600 cities nationwide participate in the program which was founded in 1953. National officials will return to Cape Girardeau in 90 or 120 days to officially certify the area. After that certification is bestowed, Keep America Beautiful will follow up with what Smith calls an "ongoing exchange of information of the best practices and education tools." This will include newsletters, invitations to national conferences and the opportunity to apply for grants.

Joining the program requires a $3,500 initial membership fee and an annual renewal fee of $300.

Smith said Keep America Beautiful is excited to add to its presence in Missouri. Currently only Hannibal, Kansas City, Branson, and St. Joseph are affiliated with the program.

Monday's presentation will take place at the Osage Community Centre and is not open to the public. Invitees include the mayors and city council members of Cape Girardeau and Jackson, MoDot officials, county officials, and representatives from Southeast Missouri State University.

335-6611, extension 245

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