Time to clean up your act
Morgan County prepares for The Great American Clean-up
by Tara Derock Mahoney
photos by Angelina Bellebuono
It started three years ago as a small group of citizens trying to neaten rural roadways.
This year, the Great American Clean-Up in Morgan County will spread over five districts and numerous communities during the month of April, with six volunteer chairs and Madison and county staffers coordinating the effort to beautify the area, neighborhood by neighborhood.
“What the county, the city of Madison, and the Keep Morgan Beautiful volunteers have done is gotten together to support the Great American Clean-Up,” said volunteer facilitator Linda Thoman, at a meeting of program organizers last Monday.
“We had people from around the county last year who came to Madison to do a trash pick-up, and they said 'How do we do this in our communities?'” said Ann Huff, director of the city's Main Street program. “So this program has grown.”
“Hopefully it will continue to grow every year,” added Monica Hayden, special projects manager for Morgan County.
The Great American Clean-Up is a program sponsored by Keep America Beautiful, the neighborhood pride organization of which Keep Morgan Beautiful is a part. Keep Morgan Beautiful sponsors trash pick-ups and community clean-ups annually; the group also supports beautification projects and recycling initiatives.
“We're really encouraging people to step forward in the month of April—or into May, if that works—to organize community clean-ups,” said Thoman. “If we can just get rid of the trash that’s here now...it shows a sense of pride. And people are less likely to trash something that they take pride in,”she continued.
The program has expanded this year into the commercial district of Madison, with local Boy Scout Troop 91, Wal-Mart, and the Morgan County Sheriff's department planning to band together on April 19 to banish litter along roadways near Interstate 20. Wal-Mart affiliate Sam's Club is one of the national sponsors of the Great American Clean-Up, and Wal-Mart has gotten involved locally in a big way. The discount store is also donating plant material for a new “Madison-Morgan Memorial Garden” to be created this week by local Master gardeners and Keep America Beautiful volunteers in front of the county's archives building (next door to the courthouse) on Hancock Street in downtown Madison.
“The garden represents the synergy in our community,” said Thoman. “It's on county property, beautifying the city of Madison.” The garden will initially be planted with patriotically-themed red, white, and blue annuals, and will be maintained by the Master gardeners.
Citizens who would like to help plant the Memorial Garden are asked to bring gardening gloves and planting tools and arrive at the site on April 12 at 9 a.m.; e-mail Monica Hayden at email@example.com for more information or to RSVP.
Recycling efforts in the county are also an important focus of Keep Morgan Beautiful, because the more recycling that occurs, the less garbage that moves into the county's solid-waste stream. Keep Morgan Beautiful volunteers encourage residents to take this opportunity to begin recycling, if you haven't already (for county residents, green recycling bins are available for free from the county by calling 706.342.0725); the county also recycles paper, plastic, and glass, as well as light bulbs, batteries, electronics, paint, and motor oil each week at the county transfer station on Highway 441 just north of Madison. From April 21 to April 26, there will also be a free tire turn-in initiative.
How can local residents get involved in area Keep Morgan Beautiful activities? On April 12, Madison's Downtown Litter Clean-Up Team will meet at the Madison Fire Station on North Main Street at 9 a.m. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes, says Huff; a pizza lunch will be provided for volunteers. Call Ann Huff at 706.342.3156 to get supplies for the day.
For those hoping to benefit the Apalachee community, local district coordinator Mary McGill will also host a clean-up event on April 12, from 2-4 p.m.; call Mary at 706.342.2482 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Any resident can organize a team in order to clean up any area, large or small. Call your local coordinator to let volunteers know your effort is happening, and to check about the availability of garbage bags and other trash pick-up supplies. In Apalachee, call Mary McGill, above; in other Morgan County areas, call your local district coordinators: in Rutledge, contact Brenda Thompson at 706.557.2804, or email@example.com; in Bostwick, contact Tricia Bostwick at 706.342.8110, or firstname.lastname@example.org; in south Morgan contact Cady Thiel at 706.752.1602 or email@example.com; in Buckhead, contact Pat Pedley at 706.342.4636, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep America Beautiful events will continue throughout the spring. On May 17, at Buckhead City Park, the Great American “Clean-Out” Yard Sale will take place, benefiting Keep Morgan Beautiful; residents can buy a space at the sale for $10 and bring their own goods to sell, keeping their own money. To reserve a space or rent a table, contact Pat Pedley at 706.342.4636.
Later in May, the Madison-Morgan Memorial Garden will be formally dedicated.