|Keeping Columbus Beautiful|
for a Quarter Century
by Borden Black
Twenty-five years ago the late
Columbus Councilwoman Edna Kendrick
had a vision that has resulted in a more
beautiful city. It was a visit to Macon
to see their Keep Macon Beautiful
Commission’s Cherry Blossom Festival
that friend Jessica Barrick says “put a bee
in Edna’s bonnet.” From that came the
Keep Columbus Beautiful Commission
(KCBC). Created by council ordinance
in December 1986, the commission had seven citizen-members. It was certified as
an affiliate program of Keep America
Beautiful, Inc. in January 1988.
Barrick was hired as the first director.
She remembers that shortly after she took
office, economic development officials
expressed concern about bringing a group
of dignitaries from the airport to the
Hilton downtown without driving past
unsightly areas and having to “put the
shades on the bus down.” “We became
the perfect vehicle,” she recalls, “as people
became more aware … that aesthetics
is important to economic development.”
One of the first projects was an Adopt-A-Spot beautification program on Victory
Drive in conjunction with CB&T’s centennial.
That developed into a partnership
with other community organizations
to form Columbus Gateways, chaired by
John Flournoy. The most recent gateway
is the entrance to Fort Benning on I-185.
The Commission and hundreds of volunteers
pitched in to prepare Columbus
for the Olympic event, cleaning and fixing
up highly visible areas of our community.
The annual Help-the-Hooch River
Cleanup and Arbor Day tree planting are
other programs that highlight litter
removal and beautification. The Arbor
Day celebrations have been expanded
over the years to engage the schools and
partner with Trees Columbus. Columbus
was the first city in Georgia to attain a “Tree City USA” designation. Most
recently I-185 from Williams Road to I-85
has been designated as a Scenic Byway,
which means no billboards will be erected.
Beautification was just the beginning.
KCBC improved waste management
techniques starting curbside recycling,
Christmas tree and phone book recycling and most recently electronics, household
hazardous waste and pharmaceutical
In 1999 Gloria Weston-Smart became
the second and current director of Keep
Columbus Beautiful. Her first success was
implementation of the environmental
court. She points out that infractions of
the environment were considered minor
when mixed in with cases of murder and
drugs and so were often overlooked. In
2002 such cases were separated.
Education is another part of the KCBC
mission. The commission is a Partner at
Large with all the schools in the area
bringing environmental projects into the
classroom. They also spread the message
through the Earth Notes program aired on
government access television.
Every year champions of the environment
and beautification are recognized
during an awards luncheon. During the
anniversary celebration many of the former
Edna Kendrick Award winners will
attend, as will past commissioners.
Barrick, who now works at Bellingrath
Gardens, is one who plans to attend. She
has visited Columbus several times since
leaving the director’s position and says she
is knocked out over what Columbus was
able to achieve in the last 25 years. “I am
most proud of some of the stuff you can’t
see, like curbside recycling and you can’t
help but feel great about Columbus
Weston-Smart feels the commission’s
programs and projects have helped to
make the city a more beautiful, cleaner
and safer place to live. “When you promote
environmental stewardship, you are
promoting protecting the environment,”
she adds.”You are working to take care of
what takes care of us.”
KCBC ANNUAL AWARDS
PRESERVING OUR LEGACY
Columbus Georgia Convention
and Trade Center
During the luncheon, former Edna
Kendrick Award winners as well as past
KCBC chairpersons will be honored.
For more info or tickets
call (706) 653-4008
To see this story complete with photos, pick up the latest issue of Columbus and the Valley at a retail outlet near you, or click here to subscribe online so you’ll never miss a word.
Facebook fans click here to see the full magazine online.