Keep Arkansas beautlful: Lodestars.
In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission is honoring 25 individuals as Arkansas Lodestars for their accomplishments to enhance our state's environment. A lodestar is someone who serves as a model, guide or inspiration. The KAB Commission is recognizing these Arkansans for steering their neighborhoods and communities toward a clean, green and litter-free Natural State.
Over the next several pages, we draw attention to each Lodestar's leadership, activism, concern and contribution. We value their work to advance KAB's areas of focus. We honor their energy, enthusiasm and passion, and we thank them for working diligently to enhance Arkansas' quality of life.
One of the most decorated environmentalists in the state, Carl Garner is best known for his work on the Greers Ferry Lake recreational facilities. Basically, the beautiful Greers Ferry Lake we know today wouldn't exist without him. "Greers Ferry Lake would become Carl Garner's life's work, and today you cannot mention one without mentioning the other," said former Sen. David Pryor. Garner spent 58 years as an employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and was one of the longest serving federal employees in our nation's history. He served as resident engineer of Greers Ferry Lake since its construction in 1959 until 1996 when he retired, but the work he did there went beyond engineering.
In 1970, Garner created the first annual lakeshore cleanup program which led to a law enacted by Sen. Dale Bumpers creating the Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Day, a program requiring all of the nation's land management agencies to set aside a day to clean and restore their properties. This also led Carl to receive the very first Iron Eyes Cody Award, the highest honor bestowed on a man from Keep America Beautiful, the nations largest community improvement organization.
The pioneering work Garner has done and profound impact his efforts continue to have is why he's being recognized as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
Garners passion for the environment led him to serve on boards for both Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission and Keep Arkansas Beautiful Foundation. His talent for engineering led him to be in charge of preparations for the dedication of Greers Ferry Darn by President John F. Kennedy. During the dedication, the last public works project of Kennedy's life, Gamer stood on the podium next to the president.
The list of awards bestowed on Garner for his efforts in engineering, beautification and preservation is extensive. He received the Social Service Award for the dedication of the Greers Ferry Project, National Water Safety Congress, Corps of Engineers Meritorious Service Award & Bronze Medal, as well as special appreciation awards from Governors Pryor and Bill Clinton, and Congressman Bill Alexander. He also received the Award of Excellence from Chief of Engineers as No. 1 Resident Engineer out of 440 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes. Garner earned the highest civilian award the Army can bestow, the Department of the Army Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service award, and was named Employee of the Year in Federal Service in Arkansas.
His last project before retiring in 1996 was to secure appropriations for a new Greers Ferry Information Center. The William Carl Garner Visitor Center was named in his honor.
Through Garner's efforts to make Greers Ferry Lake a natural, beautiful Arkansas retreat, he introduced innumerable families to the outdoors. "Carl Garner had a vision," Pryor said. "He was an environmentalist long before the word became common in our vernacular. Carl's vision was that Greers Ferry Lake should be pollution-free and should reflect the natural beauty and landscape of the region. Greers Ferry Lake should be a model for the nation, and today, it is the pearl in our nation's inventory of multiple purpose man-made lakes."
Andrea Beckman is a woman of action, who lets othing stand in her way. "Our environment can't take care of itself, so it's up to us. Arkansans should volunteer with Keep Arkansas Beautiful because we have such a beautiful state and it is our job to keep it pristine, preserved and welcoming," she encourages.
Beckman has been actively inspiring Fort Smith residents to keep their hometown beautiful. That's why she's been chosen as one of Keep Arkansas Beautiful's Lodestars. A lodestar is someone who serves as an inspiration, model or guide. Keep Arkansas Beautiful recognizes these individuals for guiding their neighborhoods and communities in an effort to keep Arkansas clean, green and free of litter.
"I see the need for this everyday," she says. "I think the residents of Fort Smith see the positive changes we're making as a good thing and, with our volunteer base increasing, they want to help with those positive changes."
Beckman has volunteered with Keep Arkansas Beautiful for nearly three years and has helped coordinate hundreds of events, although her Arbor Day event with the Fort Smith Public Schools stands out as one of her favorites. "We secured a $1,500 grant from the Arkansas Flower and Garden Club and were able to plant 20 young oak trees on three of the school's campuses," Beckman explains. "We worked with several of the teachers to provide in-class education and a hands-on learning experience planting the trees."
It's so easy for Arkansans to participate in all sorts of volunteer activities. "There is always room for improvement whether I notice a beautification opportunity, litter along our roadways and waterways, or a need for additional recycling."
Beckman currently organizes annual events such as Fort Smith's Great American Cleanup in Arkansas each spring and Great Arkansas Cleanup each fall, which brings together hundreds of Fort Smith volunteers to keep their city vibrant.
"I'd like you to be part of our team at Keep Little Rock Beautiful."
That simple invitation was all it took for Norm Berner to begin dedicating his time and energy and as he says, jump in "lock, stock and barrel' to the Keep Arkansas Beautiful mission. He started out volunteering with his neighborhood association on litter prevention, recycling and beautification projects. Today, he's one of the main stakeholders in Friends of Fourche Creek, and he works with a number of other organizations.
Berner spends his time preserving Arkansas' natural beauty and resources and helping others in his community do the same. His inspiring commitment to the environment is why he's being honored as a Keep. Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
"I'm happy to be part of such a wonderful group making a difference across our state organization - people continually ask me about our Friends of Fourche Creek. It gives me a great opportunity to engage the public so they can help make a difference in our state and in our community' Berner says.
Berner is a believer in the value of volunteering, and not solely because of the benefits reaped from the work done by one person. "I've learned over the years that volunteering can encourage and inspire others - it shows them what can happen! We've got to share the load. One person can't do it all; you have to get everyone involved. You can make a difference" When it comes to volunteering, Berner "walks the walk." He is actively involved in a number of local organizations:
* Arkansas Forestry Commission
* Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
* Audubon Arkansas
* Meadowcliff/Brookwood neighborhood association
* National Park Service
* UALR/University District
* U.S. Geological Survey
* Westwood neighborhood association
* Keep Little Rock Beautiful
On top of all that, he serves as Coordinator of the volunteer park ranger program in the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Little Rock.
For Berner, getting everyone involved begins with educating the public. "We're finding out that proper education is important." he says. "For example, most people don't know what happens to litter after they toss it out. If they knew how long it will remain and how much damage it will cause, they may decide to find a trash can instead."
Another key to getting the community to participate in beautification and cleanup efforts is sharing the stories of others who are already doing it, according to Berner. He says, "There are lots more stories that need to be told. There are lots of other people like me who are dedicating their lives to making a difference. We need to tell these stories to get more people involved" Though lots of help is still needed, Berner is definitely seeing a movement toward volunteering and protecting the environment within the community. "We had people from all four corners of the state come out to Fourche Creek on Earth Day, and we were able to remove a whole trash pile in one single session. We have connected with a lot of good people who want to lend their support'
Herschel Bowman is a "pusher' No, not that kind of pusher. Bowman is a pusher of people. He doesn't take no for an answer when it comes to keeping Sherwood beautiful. "If you don't return my call, I call you back," he says.
It's that stick-to-itiveness that made Robert Phelps, director of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission, know that Bowman was the right man to launch Keep Sherwood Beautiful in 2007. "Founding the local affiliate and helping it thrive makes Bowman a Lodestar," Phelps explains.
Bowman, now retired to Clinton in Van Buren County, remembers vividly the clay he met Phelps. "Robert came to speak at our chamber of commerce. Afterwards, he said 'If anybody is interested, come see me: because they had tried to get it started a couple years before and it fell apart," says Bowman. "I walked up to him and said, 'You know, I'm kind of interested in this.' Robert replied, 'Well good, you're nominated."
Bowman called up eight or nine of his friends, and they had a meeting at his office and it went from there. "Everyone just started talking to people. I am a pusher,. so Idon't take no for an answer," Bowman says.
Once the Keep Sherwood Beautiful board of directors was formed, the organization needed a, director. Betty Barnhardt was the perfect candidate for the job. "We performed a Community Awareness Index, we would drive around Sherwood to see what was clean and what was dirty. It grew from that Bowman says. "We started having cleanups and people on the board would tell us where in Sherwood we needed to clean up. Afterwards, we'd have hot dogs. and cokes, and we'd all have a big cookout Cleanups can be fun but there's a serious side, Bowman says. Thanks to KAB's partnership with the Arkansas Highway and. Transportation Department, residents are able to report littering.
"If I see trash fly out of a pickup truck or someone throwing. trash out of their window, I get their license number and call it in. A letter is sent reminding the owner of the vehicle to take pride in Arkansas," he says. "We aren't called The Natural State for nothing--and we want to keep it that way for generations to come."
Bowman says involvement in the organization is easyand. rewarding. "It's a sense of accomplishment," he says "You'll be able to tell your kids and grandkids that you helped keep the state beautiful. People throw so much crap away--my generation was the worst. It took me until I was about 25. When I was about 25, I started carrying a bag in my car, instead of throwing it out the window."
Described by Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola as a "godsend to South Main." Anita Davis has a knack for making things not only look better, but look incredible.
Davis says, "I visited my daughter in New York and also traveled to Seattle, and I was so inspired by the green spaces I saw there - and how much the residents enjoyed them - that I wanted to bring that to Little Rock." This inspiration led her to Little Rock's neglected South Main Street. She's been actively working on community improvement there for about 10 years, and the impact her efforts are having is nothing short of inspiring. South Main is now a beautiful, thriving and growing district.
Because of her ability to see untapped potential in South Main (SoMa) and her commitment to make the transformation happen, Davis is being recognized as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
"They're all my favorites!" Davis says of her various projects. "I love how The Bernice Garden has become such an integral part of the South Main neighborhood and such a hub of activity." Of course, Davis won't take all the credit for The Bernice Garden and the community improvement efforts on South Main. This honor should be shared with our marvelous Master Gardener, Laverne Davis. I couldn't have done it without her vision and talent." Davis is especially proud of The Bernice Garden. "It hosts the Arkansas Cornbread Festival every year, which continues to grow - people love it, and I love that it brings people to South Main. And Esse Purse Museum & Store is a celebration of and victory for women, as well as another draw to SoMa." Davis explains.
In addition to the Garden and museum, Davis' influence has helped bring unique restaurants featuring dishes made with fresh, local ingredients, and the city's first Green Business Network certified store, appropriately named The Green Corner Store. An artist at heart, Davis has an eye for making things beautiful. It's obvious by her actions that beautification and preservation of the environment are important to her. She says, "Any group that works to make our state cleaner, more attractive and more natural is important to me, and Keep Arkansas Beautiful has a long history of doing just that. And I think it's terribly important for people to think about the amount of trash they generate and where it ends up."
She adds, "Few things are more important than having a beautiful and healthy environment in which to live and raise a family."
If you found yourself walking a mile in Teresa DeVito's shoes, you'd actually find yourself walking 300 miles across Arkansas.
DeVito spent 15 days walking across north Arkansas from the Missouri to Oklahoma borders picking up more than three tons of roadside litter. This commitment to keeping The Natural State beautiful is why she's been chosen as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar. "My walk across Arkansas was my first 'community improvement' effort, and I was met with so much gratitude and hospitality during that time. It was a very special journey that nurtured my soul, and a time that I will never forget," DeVito says.
Acknowledging that all people are creatures of habit, DeVito says she wanted her 300-mile trek to raise awareness and educate Arkansans about how much litter is thrown along the roadways. "People do what they've always done without any consideration, and sometimes, they just need someone else to make them consider a different way."
DeVito says that at Keep Arkansas Beautiful, she's found an organization where she can truly "plug in" to her passion. "Keep Arkansas Beautiful is the driving force behind statewide cleanups and educational programs, key ingredients to raising awareness of these important issues." DeVito is also involved with other local environmental groups such as Save the Ozarks. While being involved with KAB, Save the Ozarks and other organizations, she hopes to plan another walk across Arkansas and already has recruited friends who have volunteered to accompany het "KAB does so much for our communities. Volunteering is a great way to give back and do something great for Mother Earth! Our planet can only sustain us if we respect and care for her." DeVito says.
If you're looking for Tiffany Dunn, head over to Saline County and keep an eye open for a six-foot-tall fox named Smarty. Decked out in a green polo shirt and khaki shorts, Smarty is pretty hard to miss and, where Smarty is, Dunn won't be far away.
Dunn works for the Saline County Regional Solid Waste Management District where Smarty the Fox is its mascot. "Most of the time when people see me in the community; they see me standing next to a six-foot-tall Smarty the Fox." says Dunn. "Smarty the Fox is the mascot for the Saline County RSWMD that we take to schools, community events and cleanup events. He is the highlight of the events and is loved by all." Dunn has worked with Saline County RSWMD for nearly three years and recently became a board member for Keep Bryant Beautiful. Dunn's commitment to keep her community vibrant is what makes her worthy to be recognized as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar. A lodestar is someone who serves as an inspiration, model or guide. Keep Arkansas Beautiful recognizes these individuals for guiding their neighborhoods and communities in an effort to keep Arkansas clean, green and free of litter.
-We are lucky to live in The Natural State, and it is important to keep our home clean and an environmentally fun place to live she says. "I feel that education is a very powerful tool. The more we educate people the more mindful and proactive people will become. In working with KAB, their mission falls right into the goals that we want to achieve in Saline County."
Dunn says winning a second-place national award from Keep America Beautiful has been one of the highlights of her career at RSWMD. Another has been working with the Green Team Program in Saline County.
"Through the Green Team Program, we are able to work with students and teachers, educating them about recycling and volunteering in the community," says Dunn. "We work with different organizations like Keep Bryant Beautiful, Saline Green, Benton Matters and Labor for Your Neighbor. Through these organizations we are able to pair students with volunteer opportunities such as litter pickups, beautification projects, and even contests for the schools," she says.
Dunn cites the curbside recycling program in Saline County as another project that has been fun to work on.
"Before curbside recycling began, recycling was very limited and not very convenient," she says. "We have worked hard the past two years to get a program going and I'm happy to say that curbside recycling began in Saline County on April 1."
Karen FitzPatrick'S love for Arkansas' scenic beauty began at a young age, camping with her family at state parks, lakes and rivers.
Today, that love for Arkansas. is evident in her commitment to preserving our state's natural beauty and in how she's teaching the younger generation the importance of keeping their community clean.
FitzPatrick spends much of her time investing in the students at Clear Spring School, an independent school in Eureka Springs whose mission is to promote a "lifelong love of learning" through a hands-on, hearts-engaged educational environment. "Teaching life skills is atthe core of our curriculum," She says. "Nearly all of the 17 life skills taught at each level at Clear Spring are practiced when the students plant trees, pick up litter and recycle. Students report a strong feeling of accomplishment when they participate in cleanup efforts."
The time and energy FitzPatrick invests in teaching young people what it means to be a global citizen is why she is being recognized as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar. "Keep Arkansas Beautiful is extremely supportive of our projects" FitzPatrick says. "Their encouragement has inspired us to report otu results in the local newspapers and back to KA B" One of these projects is the annual Trashathon, Clear Spring's fall event that "is as old as our school and is a signature event in Eureka Springs."
The event involves teams of students scouring roadsides, waterways and parks collecting trash. In past years, the number of bags collected has exceeded 800. "Trashathon is a well-loved tradition at Clear Spring School that is often mentioned by our devoted alumni as a favorite memory of their experience at our school. Even the young students recognize that their efforts are helping the town because the prettier Eureka Springs is, the more people will come visit, which is essential to the local economy."
Aside from big events, FitzPatrick also supports Clear Spring's everyday efforts to keep: Arkansas beautiful. "We collect ink and toner cartridges from local businesses for recycling,. and - families bring their own dishes to school dinners and clean them ata wash station. The school is so dedicated to reducing waste that we eliminated the need for a dumpster."
FitzPatrick is excited to celebrate the school's 40th anniversary "by cleaning parks and roadsides and planting -flowers to thank local residents for four decades of loving support."
NORTH LITTLE ROCK
We've all heard the saying, "you only have one chance to make a first impression," and Dan Flowers is making it his mission to ensure everyone who visits Arkansas leaves with a good one. "Many of the state visitors form their first impression of Arkansas by the appearance of our highways. The cleanliness and appearance of our state's roadways makes travel much more pleasant," he says. Flowers' dedication to Arkansas' natural. beauty is why he's being honored as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
In 2011, Flowers retired from the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department after more than 43 years of service. During that time he helped secure a $100,000 grant to Keep Arkansas Beautiful from AHTD that served as the initial funding for the annual Great Arkansas Cleanup.
'Working with Keep Arkansas Beautiful on. the Great Arkansas Cleanup has always been important to me. This project provides a 'shot in the arm' to cleaning and improving the appearance of the state," Flowers says.
Flowers says that since the mission of AHTD and KAB go hand in hand, creating a partnership has been an effective way to accomplish both goals. "In addition to the Arkansas Highway Commission/AHTD being a partner in providing initial funding and annual financial support for the Great Arkansas Cleanup, AHTD has initiated programs over the years to complement the mission of KAB. AHTD's Adopt-A-Highway Program, Wildflower Program and Litter Hotline have all provided activities that complement those of KAB."
When Aced about his favorite accomplishments, Flowers mentions the construction of new Welcome Centers at major highway points of entry. "These. modern facilities provide an improved travel experience for those visiting Arkansas. Most importantly, these new facilities have provided many locations for KAB to educate travelers about the importance of not littering and helping us keep our state clean."
"Keeping Arkansas clean is an important part of living up to our reputation of being The Natural State - we need to do all we can to live up to that designation," Flowers says.
No one does a better job than Ralph Hall at steering our state in the right direction when it comes to keeping our roadsides clean and free of litter.
In 2004, Hall was instrumental in the launch of the Litter Hotline and the Governor's Council on Litter Law Enforcement. His accomplishments make him worthy of recognition as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
Hall currently serves as deputy director and chief engineer for the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department. "I have worked for the Highway and Transportation Department for 42 years, but in 1994, I was promoted to a position where I could influence specifications and policy to benefit roadside appearances," Hall says. "Since then, I've worked with the Arkansas Native Plant Society, Arkansas Federation of Garden Clubs, Cooperative Extension Service and Keep Arkansas Beautiful."
Since its inception, the Litter Hotline has received nearly 65,000 calls from anonymous tipsters reporting littering on the state's roadways. This makes it one of the most successful. litter reporting programs in thenation.
Reporting littering in Arkansas is quick, simple and anonymous by calling 1-866811-1222. Motorists reporting a violation are asked to provide the date and timethat the littering occurred, the location where it occurred, the description of the vehicle including the license plate number and the side of the vehicle (driver or passenger) from which the littering occurred'. Then, a letter sent to the vehicle's owner about the unlawful action and the consequences of littering in Arkansas. "The success of the program is not only shown by the level of participation but by a transformation in the type of littering that has been reported over the years," Hall says. "The type of littering has changed from deliberate, out-the-window or unsecured litter to accidental littering, and from food wrappers and bottles to cigarettes and tobacco products."
In 2008, Hall created the Jail Inmate Litter Pickup program where AHTD pays $2 per hour for each county jail inmate who picks up litter on the roadsides. About 1.0 counties are heavily involved in this program, on which AHTD spends about $100,000 per year.
He's serious about keeping this state clean. "1 have lived in Arkansas all my life and am proud of our state," he says. "As with most large-scale efforts, it takes a champion and a leader to encourage people and give them the vision to follow in order to accomplish the goals. Keep Arkansas Beautiful is that champion and leader that provides the vision to make our state a better place."
Eleven years ago the dead-end streets. of Little Rock's South End Neighborhood had become a dumping ground. People were leaving tires and mattresses - even refrigerators - in empty lots and ditches.
Neighborhood residents, most of whom are senior citizens, felt hopeless. They didn't know how to start a cleanup effort, and many didn't have the physical ability to take on the projects themselves.
That's where Minnie Hatchett came in. A senior citizen herself but spry and sassy, Hatchett reached out to Keep Arkansas Beautiful for help and has been organizing cleanups ever since. "I could not have been successful without the labors of those who have participated," she recalls. "Some people have worked in all 11 of our cleanups - and these are older people. Basically they supported me in my idea that our neighborhood could be beautiful again, so all the honor and praises go to them," Hatchett says about being honored as an Arkansas Lodestar.
In a neighborhood where. more than 85 percent of the residents are over age 65 and many are on -fixed incomes, the Keep Arkansas Beautiful mission becomes even more poignant, Hatchett explains. "The mission is a thing I believe in. When I discussed it with the neighbors, they said they wanted to maintain their homes," she adds. "This was a way we could come together as neighbors and work together twice a year to help them do that by keeping the neighborhood clean and litter-free.
-In this neighborhood, we've also planted flowers and put out shrubs for those who couldn't afford to buy them or plant them - one time we painted a neighbor's home, and we've brought in job Corps to help replace the windows and steps so an elderly lady could stay in her home," Hatchett says. "And litter prevention is so important because it's not just where you live, it's how clean it is. It doesn't matter where you live; everybody deserves a beautiful place. That's what I strive for, for everything around us to be beautiful."
As is the case with most volunteers, Hatchet - who holds a Ph.D. and is also director of the UA1313 North Little Rock Center - is slow to sing her own praises. When pressed, she recalls a conversation she had with a friend after learning she was to be honored as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar. "She said to me, 'That's well overdue because of the work you've done and how you have held us together. We've never had a project in the South End that has lasted II years consistently.' It was a great honor to hear her say that."
Hatchett says she's happy to be doing work where the end result is so obvious. "When I can ride through the neighborhood and see that the streets are clean and litter isn't everywhere, that's a big thing because at one time it was terrible," she says. "The first and second years, we had a dumpster and for two years it was full of tires. We would go around and pick those tires up and load them in my old pickup and bring them back and unload. Someone was dumping their tires on a dead-end street. We've cleaned it up and we haven't had that problem the last two times."
Suzanne Hirrel wants people to S.T.O.P. and stop right now! The acronym stands for Stop Trashing Our Planet, and Hirrel's serious about it. That's why she's being honored as one of Keep Arkansas Beautiful's Lodestars. A lodestar is someone who serves as an inspiration, model or guide. Keep Arkansas Beautiful recognizes these individuals for guiding their neighborhoods and communities in an effort to keep Arkansas beautiful. "My whole career, my whole life I've been involved in cleanups and recycling," she says. "When I first came to work in Arkansas in 1976, I was working with the 4-H Clubs in Pulaski County and the county judge came up with the idea that if we could clean up some of the county's illegal dumps and plant trees in these areas, then maybe people wouldn't dump anymore - I remember it was called, 'Plant a Dump.' "I remember rallying the kids; we were more involved in the planting. When recycling came into more importance in the late' 1980s. and again 1 was working with my 4-H kids, we developed a program called Project STOP. We had a mascot - this big earth person - we put a kid in the earth with big shoes and big feet. We had skits and songs and a speakers bureau and the kids really loved it."
Hirrel said the program received recognition from Keep Arkansas Beautiful and led to an invitation to the governor's mansion by then-Gov. Bill Clinton. "We were doing this because we thought it was fun and important, and we wanted to tell people about recycling--but we were recognized for Project S.T.O.P.," Hirrel says.
Project S.T.O.P. also launched Hirrel into a new job. "It was a joint position between the Cooperative Extension Service and the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, which is now the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. They were just starting the recycling division in 1992. I worked as a statewide recycling educator for four years. Then I went back to fulltime extension and did environmental education, water quality, solid waste, composting, recycling. When I retired, that's when I got involved with Keep Little Rock Beautiful'
Hirrel was instrumental in the development of the Keep Little Rock Beautiful citywide cleanup. "Walter Jennings and I started the Little Rock citywide cleanup - the spring after Walter's first effort that previous fall. He and I were co-chairs of the event for the first three years and since then I've continued on," Hirrel recalls.
It's important for people to take pride and ownership in their communities and their neighborhoods, she says. That's what has kept her involved over the years. "I usually encourage people to get involved, get their neighbors involved, get their church community involved to take pride and ownership in where they live - whether it's their street, neighborhood or their whole city," Hirrel says.
Hirrel currently serves on the board of directors for Keep Little Rock Beautiful.
Larry Karigan-Winter can truly say he was recycling before t. ecyCling was cool. "We tried to recycle in the '70's, but we were too young and naive and America wasn't ready' he says. Though Karigan-Winter's early efforts didn't take off at first, his persistence and willingness to take initiative have helped make the Madison County Solid Waste & Recycling Center a full-service facility that accepts more materials than any other location in the state and a model for other recycling centers in Arkansas.
His efforts to provide a cleaner, more convenient method of waste disposal and recycling, is why Karigan-Winter is a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar. "To be recognized for something you've loved doing is more than I would ever expect in life. We never thought we were doing something that special until many years into this when we discovered others weren't doing what we were."
That something different is: recycling. This action has had a profound effect on Madison County What started out as Karigan-Winter's volunteer effort 25 years ago led him to a career dedicated to keeping his community cleaner and-greener. Karigan-Winter says, "I organized the Solid Waste and Recycling Department under county government. We developed a Solid Waste Plan for our county, developed a grant application and received the largest grant awarded to any city or county in the state in the first recycling grant round of 1991."
He also drew plans for the Recycling Center and was general contractor overseeing the project. "I also developed and drew the plans for the South Madison County Convenience Center. I've been published in a trade magazine on the convenience center and I've spoken at the National Recycling Conference as well as our local state conferences."
Karigan-Winter's career accomplishments are impressive, but his list of achievements alongside his colleagues at the Madison County Solid Waste & Recycling Center is astounding. Accepting everything from aluminum cans and scrap steel to tires, the recyding center operates to ensure everything is disposed of properly. "We were the first to start a reuse program to generate additional revenue and sustain the effort" Karigan-Winter says, "We provide a niche service for people's usable discards that we sell back to the public ... which generated $48,000 last year' The recycling center is responsible for recovering Freon from AC units, refrigerators and freezers; shredding sensitive documents and recycling the paper; taking ink cartridges and telephones for the local pet shelter; and keeping accounts for five nonprofits, paying them for metal and cans donated through the center to those programs.
Karigan-Winter says he has received $913,000 in the 22 years of the State Recycling Grants Program, all for a rural county with 15,000 residents, creating a national model for small communities.
Though all these facts are impressive, Karigan-Winter is most proud of the social change his actions have brought about in Madison County "I can't take all the credit. Behind me was a host of community members who were major players to accomplish these goals. We don't have to throw it out back, we don't have to burn it, we don't have to dump it, we don't have to live with trash everywhere. The whole community takes pride in the fact that they don't live in a trashy community anymore."
Gene Lichliter isn't afraid to admit he likes beautiful things. His passion for creating and sustaining beauty led him to Keep Arkansas Beautiful.
Lichliter has worked for more than 20 years to make Arkansas a more beautiful place, which is why he's being honored as a Lodestar. He isn't just growing beautiful flowers; he's planting. the seeds for charming communities.
Lichliter modestly refers to himself as an amateur when it comes to landscape architecture, but after designing the landscaping for four local golf courses and 91 Habitat for Humanity houses, it's safe to say he's no amateur. "I'm a lifetime member of the Master Gardeners of Garland County and served there for about 17 years," he explains. "I'm probably most active in the Hot Springs Village Men's Garden Club."
Besides his involvement with the Arkansas, Urban Forestry Council, Master Gardeners, Hot Springs Village Men's Garden Club and other community beautification efforts, Lichliter has served on the Hot Springs/Garland County Beautification Commission for more than a decade.
Lichliter became president of the Hot Springs/Garland County Beautification Commission shortly after being asked to join. "I was particularly excited by the cleanup program and the Arbor Day events that the commission promotes," Lichliter says. "Now, the commission helps coordinate the Trash Bash, which brings hundreds of volunteers out to collect trash on the banks of Lake Hamilton and around the city," Lichliter says.
Lichliter encourages all Arkansans to give back to their community because he says that once someone starts volunteering in the community, it becomes second nature. "When you've worked at something for as long as I have, after a while you start to forget why you even started. Because I'm 83 years old, the people in my community might think I'm too old to continue and it's time for a replacement, but I'm going to keep going until I just can't anymore."
Ross Moore has always believed in civic responsibility - a belief that has led him to be involved in numerous service organizations, and ultimately, make a huge impact in his community.
It all began when Moore became involved with the Greers Ferry Lake & Little Red River Association 30 years ago as a business owner of a lakeside property. He served on the board for several years and was also employed as the executive director for 18 years. "I have always tried to be involved in the community I've been a part QC Moore says. Dispatcher for the Greers Ferry Ambulance Service and Fire Department, volunteer ambulance driver, member of the Clinton Lions Club and member of the Clinton Rotary Club are hats Moore has worn. He also volunteers, with the Clinton United Methodist Church.
There's no doubt Moore's involvement in his community have made quite an impact, but one of the most impressive efforts is the Greers Ferry Lake & Little Red River Cleanup, which involves thousands of volunteers every year. His long and effective leadership in organizing and conducting this cleanup event is why he's being recognized as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
Moore believes strongly that there is something extremely special about Arkansas. "Arkansas is known as The Natural State, and it's important to keep it that way. That's just one of the things that make our lakes, rivers and the entire state so special. People need to realize what a special place they live in Moore says.
Like any tourist or lake lover, Moore's efforts are focused on appreciating Arkansas' natural beauty and enjoying it to the fullest. According to Moore, "Our cleanup, as well as others, is a great way to get outside and enjoy nature and the company of others while having a fun time. I hope people recognize the effort our organization puts into the lake's beauty and the positive benefits that come from having a clean lake and river to enjoy."
Moore has spent most of the past 30 years in one of the state's top industries, promoting tourism in Arkansas, particularly in the Greers Ferry Lake area. He has worked with tourism industry leaders such as the Arkansas Hospitality Association, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, and Keep Arkansas Beautiful. But despite all he has achieved, Moore says his favorite accomplishment is the work he's done organizing the cleanup and the effect that has had on his family. "Our son's first cleanup was in '87. He wasn't even a year old, but we took him to the cleanup. Then, throughout his life he continues to be present at the event and wants to help. He has only missed a few times when he has been in school or away. I'm proud of the fact that we have instilled those values in him."
NORTH LITTLE ROCK
Every kid loves a snow day, right? There's nothing like making snowmen and snow angels, having snowball fights and sledding. But for Randy Naylor, a snow day in his teen years was more than just fun. That day planted a seed of community service in him that has continued to bloom. "The first time I saw a really heavy snow it was really pretty, but there was trash all over the place. Several friends and I cleaned up the whole park just because the snow was so pretty and we didn't want it to look so bad," says Naylor, director of Keep North Little Rock Beautiful. "I can't say just that one incident was the start of it - really I just cleaned up trash in my neighborhood anyway, but the trash on the snow really stuck with me."
Naylor says as he grew into adulthood, he continued to be conscientious about his neighborhoods until finally being asked to help start Keep North Little Rock Beautiful.
"Our alderman, Beth White; had tried to get the organization certified three other times. She and others wanted to do it, but they just didn't have enough people to follow through to get it done. I was determined that when I started, we wouldn't be number four to try, we were going to get certified."
It takes about a year for a local affiliate, like Keep North Little Rock Beautiful, to become certified as a Keep America Beautiful affiliate. Naylor has continued working with Keep North Little Rock Beautiful since the organization was certified in February 2012.
It's Naylor's commitment to his community that makes him worthy to be honored as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar, though he jokingly admits he might be as likely to earn an award for nerve-grating. "People would say I'm persistent - I probably push a little too hard; I ask for a lot. I might get to them a lot of the time, but people usually get things done for me," he says. "Sometimes I have to keep asking, but I think people know I do what I do not for any betterment of myself, but for the betterment of our city. Yes, sometimes I push hard, but when we're out doing a project I can tell that the people involved are enjoying it and that makes me feel good."
Naylor is honored to be recognized as a Lodestar, but he says the credit should go to the Keep North Little Rock Beautiful board of directors and volunteers, "I'm just proud of our state and proud of our city." he says. "I know we only get so many days on the earth, so I just want to do my part to make a difference. When I leave here, I want to know I did something good."
One contribution Naylor is sure to be remembered for is organizing the Great Arkansas River Cleanup, which was held for the third time last year. "That's the one thing I really pushed and feel strongly about." he recalls. "We have a great resource running right between two cities. I tell people that one day we'll be drinking water out of that river, and a lot of people are doing that already. And as the population gets even larger and larger, it will be a great resource. We need to start now to try and keep it clean."
Naylor always has a project in development. "One project that I have in the works right now is a litter trap on Shillcutt Bayou where it dumps a lot of trash into the Arkansas River at Burns Park. It doesn't sound like a big project, but that thing delivers lots of litter from all over the city. We've cleaned up out there a lot and it just keeps coming back, and this way we can stop all that trash."
"We all should take pride in our community and in our state. Sometimes I go to another state or city and it looks really clean and come back here and it looks kinda bad. We have let some of our roadways get littered with trash," Naylor says. "Most of it is not that people litter all the time, but it's trucks and traffic and garbage trucks. We just need to find more opportunities to keep litter from happening."
Name the environmental organization and John Pennington has probably worked with it. From the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission to Keep Arkansas Beautiful to - well, there's not one that starts with Z, but if there were, he'd likely have worked with it, also.
It's no surprise that Pennington has been affiliated with more than 100 environmental groups, considering that he's been working in preservation and conservation for 15 years nearly half his life. "It took time for me to make the connection between using the resources that I enjoy for recreation and also needing to be a steward," Pennington says. "I think it is necessary for people to first enjoy a natural resource before they can fully appreciate it or want to take care of that resource. KAB's mission is important because without the dedicated group of people, vision and resources associated with the program, our quality of life, environment and economy in Arkansas would be diminished."
Robert Phelps, director of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission, says Pennington's tireless dedication to preserving the state's environmental quality is why he deserves to be recognized as an Arkansas Lodestar. "His leadership and efforts involving volunteers has resulted in the removal of thousands of pounds of litter and trash from northwest Arkansas' waterways," Phelps says. "John has helped to protect and ensure the quality, natural beauty and value of those waterways as treasured resources to meet human needs, as well as provide leisure and recreational activities," Phelps explains.
A consummate volunteer, Pennington doesn't want to tout his accomplishments, but when pressed, he notes that he's most proud of the work he's done to help clean the state's waterways. It's a problem he refers to as "the floatable pollution epidemic."
"We've removed more than 30,000 pounds of trash from over 100 miles of streams in Benton, Washington, Madison and Crawford counties with the help of a few thousand volunteers," Pennington says.
He says he's also proud to have played a role in helping others as they seek to make an impact on their environment. "It's rewarding to watch volunteers increase their capacity to carry out these events on their own, become more informed about how much trash is loose in the environment, and become inspired to be more involved in being a solution," he says.
Pennington currently serves as the executive director of the Beaver Watershed Alliance, which helps maintain high quality drinking water in Beaver Lake and improve water quality on the Beaver Lake Watershed.
John Pope of Van Buren would prefer not to admit it, but he's something of a spark plug. When it comes to keeping Van Buren beautiful, that's exactly what's needed. "Everybody says that there has to be a spark plug in the community to run an organization, and that apparently is what they refer to me as' he says. "They say I'm the spark plug that keeps everybody else going. I'm greatly honored to be recognized," Pope says about being honored as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
After retiring from in California, Pope returned to Van Buren in the early 2000s. Today, he says his only regret is that it took him so long to get involved with Keep Arkansas Beautiful. "When I look back at the relatively short time I've been involved with Keep Van Buren Beautiful, which has been about eight years, I'm just sorry that I didn't get involved with something of this nature earlier," he says. "It's very fulfilling. You're able to see your accomplishments, your organization's accomplishments. You're able see how the city has changed over time. When we started, our Community Appearance Index was at 3.25 on a scale of 1 to 4 with 1 being best. The past two years, we've come in at 1.25 and 1.30."
Pope says he didn't realize how easy it would be to get involved and hopes others won't wait as long as he did to volunteer. "'There's a lot of good things that people can do," he says. "Everybody isn't suited to doing the same thing. Whether it's Keep Arkansas Beautiful or Keep Van Buren Beautiful, or whatever community you live in, there's something you can do and you'll get a sense of pride and accomplishment. It's very fulfilling and very gratifying. I would encourage everybody to get involved in whatever community they live in."
When asked to point out the Keep Van Buren Beautiful accomplishments he's most proud of, Pope thinks back to 2006 when the affiliate first formed. One of the board members at the time was assistant superintendent of the Van Buren school district.
"Soon after we were formed, I asked him what type of recycling program they had in the district. He said, 'Well, there may be an elementary classroom or something doing some recycling, but basically none: I looked at him and said, 'Why not?' Next thing I knew, he'd gone back to the superintendent and they called a meeting with the interested faculty members," Pope says. "They invited me to speak. I talked about recycling, the advantages of educating the kids. About three months later, they started recycling with a governmental agency that supplied the recycle bins. About two years ago, we went over 1.5 million pounds recycled."
Pope says he's also especially proud of working with the county's Community Service Worker Program, which allows judges to assign low-level offenders community service tasks to work off fines.
"Most cities use that service Monday through Friday. We approached the local judge and asked him to nm the program on Saturdays too and to assign the workers to Keep Van Buren Beautiful's efforts. He laid down some ground rules, but we average around 1,550 30-gallon bags of trash over the course of a year. That's good news and bad news because we wish there was no trash to pick up."
Pope also serves as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful commissioner and is very active in recycling programs throughout the nation. He also helped develop the partnership between Lions Clubs International and America Recycles Day for the purpose of recycling eyeglasses.
What's an earth-conscious apartment-dweller to do? Curbside recycling programs are generally available only to single-family homes. So apartment residents have to wash and sort and haul their recyclables, or put them in the trash--unless they live in Fayetteville.
Brian Pugh, director of Keep Fayetteville Beautiful and waste reduction coordinator for Fayetteville Recycling and Trash Collection, has worked with local apartment complexes to develop an on-site recycling program for residents. His leadership in developing this innovative program makes him a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
"It's still a work in progress. Recycling is available at some apartments, but creating a recycling program for apartment residents is especially important here, where the student population is growing and the number of apartment units is roughly the same as the number of single-family residential units," Pugh says. "When the system is fully implemented, it will be a big improvement in our efforts to reduce waste and create easy-to-use recycling programs."
Pugh is no stranger to this type of work. In 1995, he became Conway's first recycling coordinator. He has also worked for the former Four County Solid Waste District (now Boston Mountain Solid Waste District) in Fayetteville. "My passion for recycling and waste reduction led me to establish my career in this field. All my positions have related to managing recycling programs," Pugh says. "My job duties are a natural fit with the efforts of Keep Arkansas Beautiful to promote clean, healthy communities'
Pugh says that while many people don't think about it, the mission of Keep Arkansas Beautiful is important to all of them.
"KAB's mission should be important to everyone because of the economic and recreational benefit communities receive from being clean and beautiful," he says. "Sometimes people don't think about the impact litter has on the environment, but when you talk about money, everybody pays attention."
Pugh also believes strongly in volunteerism, encouraging Arkansans to take pride in their community and get involved. "Volunteering provides fulfillment for a person by helping others and their community. By volunteering here in Arkansas, our state will remain one of the jewels of our country. After all, we are The Natural State."
As an architect, Fred Reed works to create beautifully functional and well-built spaces for his clients. He understands that little things like landscaping can make or break a deal when someone is trying to sell. He looks at his hometown of Pine Bluff the same way. "I know what plantings, upkeep/maintenance and cleanliness can do for a building project," he says. "The city as a whole is no different. For the state and for each county and each city, it's necessary to show off our state's natural beauty, but it can easily be overlooked by distractions such as litter and unkempt properties."
Reed has been working with Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Clean & Beautiful since 1983, but his commitment to civic improvement began a decade earlier when he joined the Key Club in 1972. "As a group, you can accomplish much more than one individual can. We learn, meet people with similar interests and get guidance from published KAB programs and contacts," he says. "1 work with organizations such as KAB to give support in areas that I'm interested in, where I feel I can make a difference, or where I feel there is a need."
Reed's dedication to keeping his community and the entire state clean is among the reasons he is being recognized as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
"As a longtime, sustaining supporter of Pine Bluff/ Jefferson County Clean & Beautiful, other local civic organizations and many community improvement endeavors, Fred's involvement and leadership have provided an enhanced environmental quality and an accompanying improved quality of life for his community, advancing area vitality and excellence," says Bob Phelps, director of Keep Arkansas Beautiful.
When Lorraine Robinson was a young girl, her mother taught her to clean, do her best and be responsible. Lorraine has continued to practice those three simple principles, and has had a profound impact on her community.
From heading up the West Memphis Clean Up Blitz since 2012 to cleaning an elderly woman's property to prevent the city from taking, her to court, Robinson has always strived to take care of her community and environment. She says one of her greatest accomplishments "is seeing the community come together as a team and the excitement that we all shared about cleaning up West Memphis."
Robinson currently serves as the director of Keep West Memphis Beautiful. Her passion for keeping her city and state beautiful is one of the reasons she is being recognized as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
"Arkansans should volunteer with Keep Arkansas Beautiful because many people in the state believe that their community can be improved by volunteering to pick up litter, recycling, planting flowers, roses, trees, etc."
Robinson says. "Arkansas is called The Natural State and that's the image, 1 feel, Arkansans should work to promote and maintain." Robinson believes the key to getting more Arkansans involved in beautification, recycling and not littering lies in education about our environment and the benefits of keeping it clean.
Robinson says other West Memphis residents would describe her as "energetic, enthusiastic and determined to bring about a positive change in West Memphis."
She says Keep Arkansas Beautifill's mission is important to her because it mirrors how she feels about Keep West Memphis Beautiful.
The song "We Are Family" might come to mind if you see the Sher family picking up trash around Waldron. Jim Sher, his wife and two daughters are a family that cleans together. "My family is NOT ashamed or embarrassed, but proud to pick up trash along the streets," Sher says. "Each time we do it, we feel a sense of pride. We often ask ourselves, 'If we don't do it, who will?' and 'If we don't do it now, when?" The Sher family has been involved with Keep Arkansas Beautiful since 2010. "I saw a cleanup event advertised in our hometown paper, so I called someone who was organizing the event that my family wanted to join. Two weeks later, my family's mission was in action and we were going around the city to pick up trash alongside the streets," Sher says.
"Since then, we go out as often as we can and whenever we can to pick up trash and recycle items. We soon felt that it was a great idea to get people to join us in the cleanup events," he says. "We also campaigned and spread the word about Keep Arkansas Beautiful on Facebook and in our local newspaper" Sher believes everyone can work to improve the environment around them because a clean environment promotes healthy living. It's Sher's commitment to our environment that makes him worthy to be recognized as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar. "We often remind people to reduce, reuse, and recycle to conserve our resources and keep our state clean and beautiful," he says. "Protecting the environment is everyone's responsibility."
Many Arkansans call themselves outdoorsman, but few love the outdoors like Steve Smith. "I've spent 24 years as director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation," Smith says. "My efforts there are quiet but effective; I'm more of a behind-the-scenes person."
In fact, Smith is such a behind-the-scenes person that he launched the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame, which recognizes Arkansans who are making a difference in outdoor fields and wildlife habitat protection. Because of his dedication to preserving the environment and how he encourages others to do the same, Smith is being recognized as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
Originally inspired to partner with Keep Arkansas Beautiful because it was "a natural fit," Smith says that "Keep Arkansas Beautiful's mission is important to me because it complements the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation's conservation education efforts--conserving our natural resources for future generations."
'All foundation members are passionate about continuing that legacy and passing on the heritage of hunting, fishing and conservation education to new outdoor enthusiasts," according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation website, and Smith is no exception. His love for the Arkansas outdoors, especially the Little Red River, extends beyond outdoor activities, which is evident in his numerous accomplishments.
Smith says one of his biggest achievements was "working with the dedicated and professional staff of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Parks and Tourism, the Department of Arkansas Heritage and Keep Arkansas Beautiful to pass Amendment 75." This amendment designates a portion of the state's general sales tax to each of the above organizations, all of which work to beautify our state and preserve its natural resources.
Smith also takes great pride in establishing the state's first conservation education centers in Casscoe on the White River and on Crooked Creek near Yellville, and in his most recent project, working with the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program.
Though he may not mention it himself, Smith is also a member of the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame, having been inducted by his peers and colleagues on the foundation's board of directors. "A cleaner Arkansas ensures a better life for us," Smith says, now, for our children and for our children's children!'
For almost 50 years, Linda Westergard has been involved with organizations focused on cleanup, beautification and recycling efforts across the country. Thankfully, Arkansas is one of the states that have benefited from her passion. "T am elated to be recognized for having made a positive difference in the growth and success of Keep Arkansas Beautiful. Though I left Arkansas when my husband retired 10 years ago, the state still means so much to me," she says.
Westergard is proud of having formed a coalition committee with representatives from various organizations and state departments that produced the highway wildflower brochure and a program dedicated to planting more wildflowers along Arkansas highways.
She also says that among her favorite accomplishments is working to establish and further develop the Keep Arkansas Beautiful affiliate program. "I especially loved to visit our certified community affiliates to learn what they've accomplished and recognize their success. liked to interact with other organizations, agencies, and potential donors and volunteers with the goal of growing our KAB family."
Westergard's talent for recruiting, organizing and managing volunteers, and her dedication to using that talent to benefit the community and environment are among the reasons she is being recognized as a Keep Arkansas Beautiful Lodestar.
A former chair of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission, Westergard says she's proud to have been a part of so many firsts, including the establishment of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Foundation, KAB's participation in the Governor's Conference on Tourism, and an annual gathering of KAB affiliates and individual volunteers.
"I believe we are responsible for leaving things better than we found them," Westergard says. "The way we accomplish that is by educating and motivating our citizens to be active in curbing litter, recycling and reusing resources, beautifying our physical surroundings, and taking personal responsibility for our communities."
For Westergard, keeping Arkansas beautiful also involves making sure officials who will support the KAB mission are elected. She encourages all Arkansans to be active in taking care of our state "because they have a stake in the future of Arkansas for themselves and their children. I believe in leadership by example. Personal actions speak louder than all the emails and texts and lectures that happen on any subject."
Brad Wimberly is turning the tides of the Mulberry River.
Since the early 1980s, Wimberly has been preserving the natural beauty of the Mulberry River, which is why he's been chosen as one of Keep Arkansas Beautiful's Lodestars. "My first attempts at cleaning the river were mainly solo efforts that were just not enough to turn the tide Wimberly says. He put out a small request for help, and help is exactly what he received. "I sent out a newsletter in 1992 calling for help, and the response was overwhelming. I quickly had to learn how to organize everyone's efforts to cover as many miles as possible. Door prizes, better preparation to feed a crowd, and more publicity quickly followed suit," he says.
The small cleanup that began with Wimberly as the lone volunteer has now grown to an annual event with hundreds of volunteers. "On March 1, we held the 23rd Annual Mulberry River Cleanup Day with more than 200 volunteers - that's a lot of volunteers. Support mainly comes from a 50-mile radius, but we do have people drive in from out of state to take part in the cleanup." Wimberly doesn't remember when the Mulberry River Cleanup Day became part of Keep Arkansas Beautiful (KAB), but he does remember
KAB contacting him to offer support. "I strongly feel that KAB's mission is essential for our economy. KAB serves as the leading force organizing and supporting the various efforts of volunteers," he says.
Wimberly wants Arkansans to take pride in their state. "Visitors need to feel that Arkansas wasn't just blessed with natural beauty, but is being taken care of by conscientious, proud residents," he says. "Arkansans can break the cycle of litter by volunteering with KAB, leaving a better place for future generations. Fighting litter can be a thankless task because the litter reappears almost immediately, but we have to take pride in making a difference."
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|Date:||Jun 23, 2014|
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