Six cities receive Arkansas Shine Awards from Keep Arkansas Beautiful
Six Arkansas cities have been recognized in the 2011 Arkansas Shine Awards program by the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission (KAB), including one city that has received the inaugural Arkansas Shine Superstar Award.
“KAB is eager to recognize the well-rounded efforts of these outstanding communities and share these projects with civic leaders across Arkansas to continue motivating and educating people about the impact a clean community can have on tourism, business and industrial prospects,” said Robert Phelps, director of KAB. “It takes dedicated leaders and volunteers in many organizations to keep towns clean and green, from litter prevention to recycling programs to beautification.”
The 2011 Arkansas Shine Award winners are:
- Brookland, Craighead County (pop. 2,500 or less) – Brookland was chosen for its weekly curbside recycling initiative and revitalization of the city’s “old downtown” business district.
“The residents of Brookland have really taken on personal responsibility for our recycling efforts in the past couple of years,” wrote Mayor Kenneth Jones in the city’s entry. “They have a real desire to make the community we live in a better place and help save our environment.”
- Nashville, Howard County (pop. 2,501-5,000) – Nashville was chosen for its efforts to reduce cigarette litter and create projects designed to simultaneously help the environment and community members in need, such as the Howard County Children’s Center.
“Nashville is an ideal small community to live in,” wrote Mayor Billy Ray Jones in Nashville’s Arkansas Shine Awards entry. “We enjoy the economic benefits made possible by our re-formed Economic Development Group’s efforts, still have a vibrant historic downtown that was recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and are located within an hour’s drive of several major Arkansas cities. We’re dedicated to promoting these advantages and continually striving to undertake comprehensive community improvement projects.
- Harrison, Boone County (pop. 10,001-20,000) – Two community initiatives that helped Harrison rise above other entrants were the Central Organization for Revitalization and Enhancement (C.O.R.E.) and the development of the Harrison Skate Park. The C.O.R.E. project works to engage community members to revitalize Harrison’s cultural, historical, social and entrepreneurial enterprises. The skate park has enhanced the appearance of the downtown area, attracted skateboarding meets and competitions, and helped the local economy.
“Harrison is blessed with scenic natural surroundings and a picturesque downtown area,” wrote Mayor Jeff Crockett in the city’s entry. “Expanded community partnerships, in addition to the city’s renewed dedication to community greening, have helped our city set higher standards and develop new attractions.”
- Bentonville, Benton County (pop. 20,001-50,000) – Several efforts helped Bentonville stand out. The city was recognized for its efforts to prepare the community for the November opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, including the expansion of community bike trails and parks, and the FOG (Fats, Oil and Grease) campaign designed to increase residents’ awareness of the negative impact these food waste products have on the city’s sewer system and water quality when disposed of improperly.
“Bentonville is an excellent community to live in and to visit,” noted Mayor Bob McCaslin in Bentonville’s Arkansas Shine Awards entry. “We pride ourselves on taking a comprehensive approach to sustainability and improving quality of life for our more than 35,000 residents and approximately 250,000 annual visitors.”
- Little Rock, Pulaski County (pop. 50,001+) – Little Rock was recognized for the city’s efforts to implement and promote sustainability measures that encourage community members to become more environmentally conscious. By involving a broad range of community partners, the city was able to create and coordinate a variety of community events, including Little Rock Bike-to-Work Day, the Little Rock School District (LRSD) “i Matter March,” the LRSD Paper Recycling Program and the Great American Cleanup in Little Rock.
“As the capital city, in many instances, Little Rock serves as the face of Arkansas for our visitors,” wrote Mayor Mark Stodola in Little Rock’s entry. “This year, we’re proud to have represented our state well, with recognition as one of Forbes’ ‘America’s Cleanest Cities,’ and one of Kiplinger’s Magazine’s ‘Top 10 Best Value Cities.'”
- Fayetteville, Washington County (Superstar Award Winner) – Fayetteville’s continued success in the Shine Awards competition was a result of two initiatives. First, the city created a Community Revolving Loan Fund, a program that offers low-interest loans to Fayetteville nonprofits for energy-efficiency retrofits. This fund is designed to help nonprofits reduce daily operational costs and redirect the savings to support regular program needs. Second, Fayetteville was selected as one of two Pilot Cities by the Sustainable Cities Institute. As a Pilot City, Fayetteville will receive three years of support and technical assistance from the Sustainable Cities Institute and its partners, the services of a local coordinator, and $500,000 in funding from the Home Depot Foundation to meet its project goals and objectives.
“Fayetteville is consistently recognized as one of the best places to live, work and play in America. We continue to demonstrate the community’s commitment to improving the quality of life through the promotion of natural beauty and learning from the best practices around the country in the area of sustainability,” wrote Mayor Lioneld Jordan in Fayetteville’s Arkansas Shine Superstar Awards entry. “The growth of volunteer involvement and community collaborations and partnerships have resulted in our city setting new standards and being looked at for best practices by other communities.”
The Arkansas Shine Awards program recognizes communities that are making significant strides in providing programs and instituting policies to create sustainable communities. The Arkansas Shine Superstar Award is presented to a community that has previously won multiple Shine Awards and continues to promote civic improvement.
KAB hosted a reception in each city in November to present the award to community leaders.
Arkansas Shine Awards entrants were evaluated and ranked using performance standards for 1) creating environmental initiatives to reduce litter, encourage recycling and enhance natural beauty; 2) positively impacting economic development; 3) developing public-private partnerships to accomplish goals; 4) securing project funding; and 5) enforcing litter laws and city ordinances for property upkeep. One Arkansas Shine Award winner was named in each of several population categories, and a statewide Superstar Award was presented to one community that had won multiple Shine Awards in previous years.