KCNB keeps it green
Local organization has worked for the environment for almost 30 years
For nearly 30 years the members of Keep Covington/ Newton Beautiful — a local affiliate of Keep Georgia Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful — have sought to “challenge, motivate and inspire everyone to take responsibility for a clean and beautiful community,” as the organization’s motto states.
KCNB Executive Director Connie Waller has served as the organization’s chief since 1983 and has followed other directors Jackie Carson, Martha Taylor and Lynn Cobb.
Waller said the main goals of the group are litter prevention, community beautification, waste reduction and recycling.
The 12 Newton County Neighborhood Recycling Centers are the most visible accomplishments of the organization, according to Waller.
“We started out with one green dumpster at the city site off Alcovy Road,” Waller said.
In the late 1980s, KCNB launched a newspaper drive to kick off the new county recycling initiative.
When the Georgia legislature passed the Solid Waste Management Act in 1990 asking municipalities to reduce the amount of waste in their landfills by 20 percent, KCNB members pushed to open more recycling centers at the existing garbage collection sites around the county.
“We changed the names to Neighborhood Recycling Centers,” Waller said, “because we wanted to express that although you can throw your garbage away there, you can recycle there too.”
Today, the centers accept plastic, newspaper, office paper, cardboard, aluminum, tin, yard waste, paint, motor oil and bulk metal waste for recycling.
Residents can weigh their recyclables at the original recycling center on Turner Street in order to raise money for the non-profit of their choice such as schools, churches and other civic organizations.
“That was one of our original programs to encourage people to recycle,” Waller said.
She added that although everyone in the county has access to the neighborhood recycling centers, the educational programs created by KCNB such as puppet shows, enviroscape presentations and learning laboratories are the most important of the organizations endeavors.
“We want to give people a reason to know why these issues are important,” Waller said, “and what better place to do that, than in our schools”
Every year KCNB puppeteers visit the county elementary schools to perform shows featuring Detective Seymore Green — a raccoon dedicated to the investigation of littering and pollution and spreading messages about how to combat and solve environmental problems.
Enviroscape presentations use three- dimensional diagrams to demonstrate how storm water can carry pollution, and describes measures individuals and businesses can take to prevent precious water resources from becoming contaminated.
Learning labs bring students to the Newton County Landfill for a two-hour excursion where they learn what materials can be recycled, how to compost, how to dispose of hazardous materials, how to make recycled paper, about the water cycle and how to prevent water pollution, how a landfill works as well as view how bottles and cans are recycled in Newton County.
Throughout the year members of KCNB also plan community- wide beautification efforts such as the Great American Clean-up — a oneday litter clean-up across the county in the spring and Rivers Alive — a half-day in the fall when students join KCNB volunteers to clean up around local rivers, lakes and streams.
Also in the fall members organize the Green Getaway — a dinner with entertainment to raise money for KCNB educational programs and beautification projects.
In January, the Bring One for the Chipper program allows residents to recycle their Christmas trees and receive free mulch from other recycled trees.
On Earth Day, Saturday, KCNB sponsors educational activities and school campus clean-ups. In June, the organization awards prizes to local businesses adhering to the group’s goals.
Currently, KCNB members are organizing events relating to water quality and conservation such as the Xeriscaping (water efficient gardening) workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p. m. April 26 at the Covington Home Depot.
Maddy Marshall, student at the Montessori School of Covington, was recently recognized by the Newton County Board of Commissioners for naming KCNB’s new water mascot “ Dewey the Water Drop.”
Efforts to construct new and revamp existing welcome signs along the major thoroughfares entering Newton County and to introduce a new puppet show are also underway.
Waller said usually one of the more than 60 board members recommend new members to join.
“We are not exclusive by any means,” Waller said. “We want anyone interested to come and join our board or as a wonderful volunteer.”
She added Earth Day presented a wonderful opportunity for people to volunteer for one day if they could not commit year round but felt passionate about protecting the environment.
For more information about Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful or its programs, visit the departments section of the Newton County Board of Commissioners’ Web site at www.co.newton.ga.us.
Community model: Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful Executive Director Connie Waller introduces BC Crowell, right, to a puppet made in his likeness named “BC” which stands for “Be Clean” in 2006. Crowell was a former chairman of KCNB.