This is certainly true when it comes to keeping the community beautiful. This week it was announced in Austin that Athens won the Governor’s Community Achievement Award, which provides funds for local beautification projects within the state highway rights-of-way. This means $75,000 has now been budgeted for use within the Athens city limits on state highway rights-of-way.

Who is behind this, you might ask? That would be Keep Athens Beautiful (KAB). KAB is a non-profit organization dedicated to the beautification of the city and to educating residents about the control of litter. KAB’s mission is to preserve the natural beauty and environment of Athens.

How did KAB win?

“It’s through the help and generosity from you, the Athens citizens,” said KAB President Bill Jones. “Through your donations of time and money, KAB has been very busy the last year working on projects and educating Athenians.”

Some of the projects include the Home and Garden Show at the Cain center in February, landscaping the Armory on S. Prairieville Street, maintaining the Railroad Park just off the northwest corner of the square, mowing key areas around Athens, semi-annual trash pickups, and monthly trash pickups using probationary workers. Even more important, KAB has been busy working with the city’s children. KAB touches every single child in Athens’ schools, from pre-kindergarten through 5th grade, with various programs such as a Little Peoples Litter Party, poster contests for Recycling Day, Arbor Day’s Trees are Terrific, and Graffiti Hurts. From 6th grade through high school, KAB works with many groups within the schools and maintains the critical program awareness to graduation. The middle school wrote and performed anti-litter skits with Push-Broom (a Keep Texas Beautiful mascot) and performed for impressionable kindergarten and 1st graders. Two high school clubs also participate in the semi-annual clean ups. Every event helps to solidify and create good anti-littering habits which stay for life.

All of the projects and programs above are what help make Athens and KAB a winner. And winning this award is not new for KAB. In fact, Athens has won the award five times before. Funds from winning this award in the past have been used to plant trees around the loop earlier this year and to paint the railroad bridge crossing on Highway 175 and on Highway 31. It was also used to create a more beautiful area near Save-A Lot on south Highway 19. Now, with the new funds soon to be available, KAB will be busy identifying potential projects within the state highway rights-of-way that will continue to enhance the beauty of the community. Suggestions about a potential project should be directed to Carol Morton, KAB Executive Director, at 903-675-7961.

“These projects have to by along TxDOT’s right-of-way,” Morton said, “and should be along the lines of planting trees or flowers in these areas.”

Morton said all suggestions are subject to TxDOT’s approval.

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