Keep Rutherford County Beautiful Press Contact: Jenna Bailey
Phone: (713) 824-9173 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Citizens Collect Over Seven Tons of Trash
Rutherford County Community-Wide Litter Sweep Triples Collections for Third Annual Event
Rutherford County, NC - May 14, 2019: The Rutherford County Community-Wide Litter Sweep team of more than 650 participants collected over seven tons of trash during its annual community trash collection event on April 4-28, nearly matching the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) 2018 yearly total of 11 tons and demonstrating true partnership in the state’s waste management efforts.
After recent budget cuts in both the NCDOT and the North Carolina Prison System, citizens of Rutherford County united in response to a call from the Rutherford County Commissioners to help keep the county clean. As a result, a citizen-led challenge began in 2017 when Jenna Bailey, Rutherford County native and co-founder of the Rutherfordton-based design firm Artifacturing, initiated the first county-wide litter sweep with the theme “100 Minutes. 100 People. 100 lbs. of Trash.” That effort inspired 116 people to participate and over 1,000 pounds of trash and recycling were collected. The event continued in April 2018 when more than 300 participants gathered over three tons of trash and recycling under the new theme “Pick It Up RoCo.” For both events, the NCDOT provided safety vests and trash bags while both NCDOT and the Rutherford County towns handled the removal of the bags collected.
As a result of two years of successful litter sweeps, the Rutherford County Commissioners Committee and Pick It Up RoCo team officially merged to form Keep Rutherford County Beautiful (KRCB) after realizing that keeping the county clean and beautiful is a team effort that includes citizens and not just the responsibility of the state or county leaders.
After drastically exceeding the goal each year and receiving overwhelming community support for the campaign, the KRCB committee decided to push the challenge further.
“For the third spring, Rutherford County citizens united against litter and cleaned up our streets, trails, parking lots and parks. Every year I am blown away by the number of concerned citizens like myself,” Bailey said. “We have at least doubled participation and collection every year, and with over 650 people this year, we engaged almost 1% of the county's population! We continue to push for change, but it's going to take more to keep the county clean long term.”
Although the inclement weather delayed some clean-up crews to the following weeks, the initial call for 500 individuals to remove five tons of trash was exceeded with 54 different teams and over 650 participants. In addition to the trash and recycling collected, numerous items were properly discarded including tires, coolers, crock pots, car parts, televisions, and plastic sleds. Dana Bradley, chair of the litter sub-committee commented, “It was well organized and we had a great turn out. Teams were formed from churches, civic groups, Rutherford County schools, business, and concerned citizens. It was truly inspiring.” The recent event was the largest community pick-up since the initiative started in 2017.
Don Cason, executive director of Rutherford County Tourism, which is another a partner in the community-wide initiative, expressed, “It is exciting to see the amount of volunteerism and efforts made to make our Trash Pick-up a success. It is my prayer that in the near future we won’t need volunteers because as a community we are working together and not littering our beautiful county.”
Caption: Committee members with Roxi at the supply pick-up location in Rutherfordton. (Left to Right) George Moyer, Brad Teague, Mariam Moyer, Dana Bradley, James Kilgo, Roxi the Raccoon, Clark Poole, Jenna Bailey, Karen Tegen
The Keep Rutherford County Beautiful organization is officially represented by its own mascot, Roxi the Raccoon - a lively and lovable costumed spokesman who travels the county, engaging people of all ages and standing up for community pride, clean streets and healthy living. Approximately a dozen organizations have worked together to take on waste management by focusing on litter pickups, recycling, littering education, and policy change. There has also been an increased emphasis on changing the litter culture for the future, so scavenger hunts were developed for children under age 12.
The next pick up date is already scheduled for October 10-13, 2019 and Bailey proudly announced "Be on the lookout for educational initiatives from this committee as well, because the only way to end pollution is to stop people from throwing it out in the first place.”
Team leaders for the 2019 Spring Litter Sweep are Alma Resendiz; Amanda Mashman, Betsy-Ross 4h; Amy Bridges, Town of Forest City; Anne Englebach; Ashley Lowery, Rutherford County Family & Children's Dentistry; Brad Teague, Rutherford County Schools; Brandon Hill, Spindale Elementary; Cheryl Davis, Ellenboro Jr. Beta Club; Cindy Cope, Mi Pueblito Mexican Restaurant; Courtney Canipe, East Rutherford High School; Dana Bradley, Rutherford Outdoor Coalition; Don Cason, Tourism Development Authority; Donna Ohmstead; Donnie Henson, Chase High School; Erin Burleson; Erin Kate Luyster, Girl Scout Troop 1853; Faith Hislop, Community Health Clinic; George/Marian Moyer, Lions Club; Jackie Reynolds, Forest City-Dunbar Elementary; Jessie Marlow, Trellborg; Jill Scott, Mount Vernon Ruth Elementary; Jo Oliver, East Rutherford Middle School; Julie Henson, Grace Chapel; Julie Powell, Rutherford Opportunity Center; Karen Teague; Kathy Peterson; Kevin Walker, Facebook; Leah Buckley, Pinnacle Elementary & Gilkey Ruritan Club; Leslie Dinga/Christie Bare; Lisa Barrett, Edward Jones; Patsy Wilson; Phil Miner, Caroleen Methodist Church; Rebecca Warner Humphries; Rev. Chad Dillard, 2nd Baptist Church; Ricky Greene, Chase Middle School; Robin Smith/Debbie Martin, Golden Valley Community Club; Sandi White; Scott Webber, Town of Spindale; Shivam Patel, RS Central High School; Sita Walker; Stephanie Rzonca, Town of Rutherfordton; Steve Gibert; Tammie Ash, Forrest Hunt Elementary; Trudy Holland; and WD Hutchins. Thank you to all the other participants and sponsors not listed here.
To learn more, please visit the Facebook page @KeepRCNCBeautiful or email KeepRCNCBeautiful@RutherfordCountyNC.gov.