2015 Serves as a Banner Year for Keep Van Alstyne Beautiful

Judy WomackSpecial to the Leader

The year 2015 was a phenomenal one for Keep Van Alstyne Beautiful; many people rallied to the cause, the community came together and much was accomplished. We focused primarily on litter prevention and abatement, beautification and education and the results have been more than amazing. For the previous five years we had five members, but we ended 2015 with 104 members, a 1980 percent increase with 40 percent of those active.

The best part is that people are coming to us now, asking to join and become a part of this great movement.

We have been recognized not only locally for the success we have had but we received five national and state awards for the work we have done. KVAB has received the Good Standing and President’s Circle Award from Keep America Beautiful and have been invited to their national conference in Orlando, Fla. next month to be recognized. We received the Gold Star Award from Keep Texas Beautiful and there were two state awards for the middle school — Jesse Loftice won first place in the Ruthe Jackson Youth Leadership Award and Stephanie Fernandez won third place in the Sadie Ray Graff Educator Award.

We worked diligently on fundraising with the biggest project being the sale of personalized bricks in Dorothy Fielder Park. Eighty-three bricks were sold and all have been placed in the newly reconstructed walkways. This is an ongoing project and bricks can be purchased by contacting Robert Jaska at Texas Star Bank.

We planted 235 plants, all native and drought tolerant for sustainability, planted a butterfly garden at the library, landscaped the Post Office for National Planting Day and planted six crepe myrtles at the eastside entrance for Arbor Day, while 230 trees were trimmed throughout town.

Our biggest effort was in cleaning up the city and reducing litter. We held 14 cleanup days, including our city-wide cleanup day with 125 participants. During that time, we heard many positive citizen comments. Overall, we had 183 volunteers throughout the year for cleanups in the downtown area, parks, neighborhoods, waterways, streets and highways and collected more than 4,000 pounds of trash. We added four new Adopt-A-Highway groups and now have 10 of the 12 miles of state highways being cleaned up quarterly. Three new Adopt-A-Spots were added downtown.

Our environmental education within the city was at an all-time high with a total of 2,018 hours for the schools and general public. We hosted a very successful Earth Day Celebration with many fun, educational booths and had workshops throughout the year on composting, recycling, native plants and more.

Recycling educational and citizen participation paid off as there was 364 tons of trash recycled through Republic Services, a 168-ton increase over 2014. Two electronic recycling events were held, one by the city and one by KVAB with a total of 19,245 pounds collected. Overall, a total of 820,555 pounds were recycled in Van Alstyne this past year.

Much more was accomplished, including our Recycling Fashion Show in the Fall der All parade, but too much to mention here. It would suffice to say that it was an exciting, fun year with many new friends made and 5,167 volunteer hours of community projects with a total value of $119,203 contributed to our city.

We are looking forward to an even bigger year in 2016, and with new president Kyrie Nobles and a strong board, the sky’s the limit.

Many thanks to our sponsors and supporters, who made all of this possible,

Republic Services, Texas Star Bank, Corey Horton (The Green Acre), Brice Creelman (Shades of Green), Sid Stokes (Stone Ranch), Chris Becherer (Tree Service Solutions), Mark Swift (Caterpillar), Terry Jallo (Got Signs), Loretta Anderson (Texas Farm Bureau), John Houx (Van Alstyne Hardware), Landmark Bank, Kyrie’s Coffee Co., Doug Peters ( Douglas Floral), Van Alstyne Senior Center, Van Alstyne Public Library, Rodney Williams (Van Alstyne Leader), Frank Baker (City Manager), Steve White (Van Alstyne Public Works Department), Jo Bell and Lauri Armstrong.