AP NEWS

Keep Aiken County Beautiful seeking affiliation with Keep America Beautiful

February 27, 2019

Aiken County has a new initiative and a new strategy to stop littering locally.

Keep Aiken County Beautiful is seeking to become an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, a Connecticut-based nonprofit that was founded in 1953.

“We are about halfway through the process,” said Kandace Cave, a county employee who is the program coordinator for Keep Aiken County Beautiful.

“There are a lot of steps,” she added.

One of those steps was a community training meeting that was held Tuesday afternoon at the Aiken County Government Center in Aiken.

There were more than 20 attendees, including Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce President and CEO J. David Jameson, Aiken County Councilman Willar Hightower and Chris Caldwell, manager of government and community relations for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions.

The speakers were Cave, Keep South Carolina Beautiful Director Mallory Coffey and Keep America Beautiful’s regional director for the East Coast, Isaac Nicholson.

Nicholson told his audience that Keep America Beautiful focuses on ending littering, improving recycling and beautifying communities.

“We have national programs that you can implement locally, but we also want you to put local programs (that specifically address Aiken County’s needs) in place,” Nicholson said.

He also discussed Keep America Beautiful’s behavior change system that the organization wants its affiliates to use in starting and carrying out programs.

Nicholson asked meeting attendees and Keep Aiken County Beautiful to gather specific information about litter locally.

After that task has been completed, there will be a second training meeting to talk more about implementing litter prevention programs.

In addition, Nicholson said Keep America Beautiful could provide Keep Aiken County Beautiful assistance in obtaining grants.

Jameson liked what he heard.

“A lot of folks are concerned about litter in Aiken County,” Jameson said. “Keep America Beautiful has a very organized and systematic method that people can follow, so it’s not so daunting. It’s a process that has worked in other places, and it can be customized and applied to Aiken. Because it has worked in other places, it gives me hope that it (Keep Aiken County Beautiful) can move forward and build success along the way instead of feeling like everything has to be accomplished overnight.”

Hightower also was impressed.

“We’re getting a lot of information, and we’re finding out that there are resources we didn’t know we had,” he said. “We also got examples of programs that have worked. I think that’s a big thing.”

Rick McLeod of the Rotary Club of Aiken called a county affiliation with Keep America Beautiful “a great idea because we definitely have a litter problem.”

On a 2-mile stretch of University Parkway, Rotary Club members “pick up litter every quarter, and we fill 10 to 15 bags with trash,” McLeod said.

Keep Aiken County Beautiful is seeking people to serve on its board of directors.

To obtain a nomination form, email kcave@aikencountysc.gov.

Cave said Keep Aiken County Beautiful would like to receive completed nomination forms by Friday so “so we can make recommendations to County Council in March.”

For more information about Keep Aiken County Beautiful, visit its Facebook page.