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Officials from Keep Athens Beautiful, Henderson County, the City of Athens and the Texas Department of Transportation gathered at the entrance of the Fair Park Complex on Tuesday to celebrate the newly designed entry way.

The improvements were to enhance the eye appeal of the entrance and make it a bit safer for those coming to the complex and the Senior Citizens Center from State Highway 31. The project was paid for with money Keep Athens Beautiful was awarded by winning the 2017 Governor's Community Achievement Award. The award, was from TxDOT and Keep Texas Beautiful in the amount of $160,000 as part of the Right-of-Way Beautification Program.

County Judge Wade McKinney praised the work of KAB in winning the prize that paid for the project.

"We can't say enough about your organization and how much it means to the county and the community," McKinney said. "This is a continuation of the improvement of this facility."

 Each year, Keep Texas Beautiful, in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation, awards the Governor's Community Achievement Awards to Texas communities for their outstanding overall efforts to keep their communities beautiful.

KAB Executive Director Carol Morton said the Athens organization has won the Governor's Achievement Award nine of the past 10 times it has entered. A city is only eligible to enter once every three years.

Brick structures were built on both sides of the driveway leading into the Fair Park. Another part of the improvement entailed replacing the chain link fence in front of the Senior Citizens Center with a wrought iron fence. Pipe fencing along the park entrance was also replaced.

 McKinney said the Fair Park Complex has evolved through the years from three green buildings in the 1960s and a rodeo arena to the venue it is today, which is popular with organizations around the state for hosting events. This year there were events at the complex in 50 of the weekends on the calendar.

"This facility was dedicated in its origin to the youth of Henderson County," McKinney said.

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