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The year 2020 gave us a new appreciation for our outdoor spaces as the pandemic gave us little choice but to go outside for recreation. Our parks, roads and waterways offered residents an opportunity to escape our homes, get a breath of fresh air and soak up the sun.

Therefore, it did not go unnoticed when a couple of Henderson County towns, Athens and Chandler, made us proud recently by earning top honors from Keep Texas Beautiful.

Keep Texas Beautiful is a non-profit organization dedicated to making Texas the best place to live, work, and play by deploying resources for community improvement projects, clean-ups, and youth engagement efforts across the state.

Keep Athens Beautiful recently won its 10th Governor's Community Achievement Award. The GCAA program is one of the top environmental awards in Texas.

Keep Chandler Beautiful was recognized in April for community improvement efforts as it was named a Gold Star Affiliate, the highest status any community affiliate can achieve.

Since 2017, Keep Chandler Beautiful has achieved Silver Star and Gold Star recognitions from the state.

Chandler previously earned a Governor’s Community Achievement Award in 2001 and placed second in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Chandler is a Go Texan Certified Retirement Community providing access to multiple parks, health care facilities and local shopping opportunities for residents.

In 2020 alone, KTB affiliates engaged 20,917 volunteers who contributed 37,857 hours to collect 1 million pounds of waste and recyclables from Texas roadways, trails, and waterways. Chandler successfully implemented programs to clean up litter, reduce and recycle waste, educate local citizens, and beautify and enhance the local community.

This year, 10 winning communities will share $2 million in landscape awards from the Texas Department of Transportation for their outstanding overall efforts to keep their communities beautiful.

For more than 30 years, Keep Texas Beautiful, in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation, has awarded the prestigious Governor's Community Achievement Awards to Texas communities for their outstanding overall efforts to keep their communities beautiful.

These nonprofit organizations have worked behind the scenes for years to improve the quality of life for area residents and their commitment has never been more appreciated than recently, when the call of the wild seemed like the only solace during an otherwise bleak time in our lives.

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