Great Clean Up heads to Eureka

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

EUREKA SPRINGS -- The Great American Clean Up has begun, and locals are coordinating efforts to gather groups and individuals to help keep the state, county and their respected cities beautiful.

The 2014 spring Great American Clean up began March 1 and will continue to May 31. It is one of two major cleanups through Keep Arkansas Beautiful; the other is the Great Arkansas Clean Up in the fall. The commissioners from KAB are looking to the community leaders, or anyone really, to schedule cleaning events across the state to help their goal to keep Arkansas clean and green, said Georgette Garner, KAB commissioner.

"Hopefully communities will do it," she said about participating in and organizing cleaning events. "They can do a block, they could do a school, they could go anywhere they want if they sign up. They get to choose any day that they want to do it on and they can even have more than one day. "

In 2013, more than 50,000 people were involved in nearly 280 clean-up events across the state, the results of which included more than 750,000 pounds of liter picked up, 1,920 miles of roadways cleaned, 5,791 parks cleaned and more than 4,000 trees, shrubs and flowers planted, according to research provided by KAB.

After filling out the application to register a clean up, KAB provides gloves, trash bags and T-shirts for participants. KAB commissioners are encouraging anyone to register events or volunteer time to help at one of the events.

"We are a commission that tries to educate the public about littering, recycling, reusing and the beautification of the state." Garner said. "We try to encourage other others to organize it, but that does not mean we don't get out there and participate in the clean ups too. . . anytime somebody is doing something and wants me there I would be happy to help."

Main Street Eureka Springs has scheduled their event, Earth Day Celebration & Clean Up, for April 22. Previous events have been on different dates and last year's inclement weather caused planners to reschedule, which resulted in low participation, said Jacqueline Wolven, Main Street Eureka Springs executive director and event coordinator.

"We do an annual clean-up, and we have done it for four years I think, but this year it is different because we moved it to Earth Day," Wolven explained. "In the past couple years, we had it during Celebrate the Springs weekend, and now it is included in the Earth Day celebrations. We include multiple groups to get some enthusiasm for taking care of the city, because having a clean up with 20 people is not the most exciting thing, but a clean up with 100 people is pretty exciting."

The "dirty butts" contest will still be a part of this year's clean up. This contest is won by the person who picks up the most cigarette butts and it comes with a prize, said Wolven. The day is filled with other events such as tree planting, a celebration lunch, a mayoral proclamation and a celebration to honor the Preservation of Basin Spring Park.

The participating groups include the Chamber of Commerce, Public Works Department, Parks and Recreation Commission, the Preservation Society, Trails Committee, Springs Committee, Clear Springs School, Beaver Water District, local Farmers Markets as well as public schools, banks, hotels and many others.

"I think the idea is to bring the entire city together to take care and recommit to the natural beauty of Eureka Springs," she continued. "That is why we all moved here. It is one of the most beautiful places to live in the country and I think taking one day to take care of it is a small price to pay."

If anyone is interested in organizing an clean up they can find more information at keeparkansasbeautiful.com or KAB.org. They could also call Garner at 479-253-2227 for any help with acquiring or completing the application. If anyone would like to participate in the Earth Day event just meet up with the several groups at either the Basin Spring Park or the Farmers Market in Pine Mountain Village on the morning of the event.

"The more volunteers, the better," Garner said.

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