Arkansas Shine Awards: Brookland

Brookland wins Second Arkansas Shine Award

The City of Brookland has won its second Arkansas Shine Award from the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission (KAB) for outstanding environmental and community improvement efforts. KAB representatives presented the award to city officials today at a reception at Brookland City Hall.

The Arkansas Shine Awards program recognizes communities that are making significant strides in providing programs and instituting policies to create sustainable communities. Brookland is one of six statewide recipients of the fourth annual Arkansas Shine Awards.

“The residents of the City of Brookland have really taken on personal responsibility for our recycling efforts in the past couple of years,” Mayor Kenneth Jones noted in Brookland’s Arkansas Shine Awards entry. “They have a real desire to make the community we live in a better place and help save our environment.”

Brookland’s award entry highlighted the city’s weekly curbside recycling initiative, the Bluebag Program, and its promotion. Through weekly drawings that award $25 to a participating resident, The Bluebag Program has introduced an incentive that has “really boosted the number of participants in our curbside pickup,” Jones wrote. Continual efforts to inform new residents about the Bluebag Program and annual Earth Day recycling education efforts at Brookland Elementary School have also been important to the program’s success.

Community members are extremely active in the Bluebag Program and a variety of Brookland’s other recycling and beautification efforts. In addition to curbside recycling, the city provides dumpsters for residents’ cardboard recyclables, holds an annual Easter Egg Hunt using community members’ recycled plastic eggs, holds biannual Clean Sweep citywide cleanups, and – in partnership with the Arkansas Forestry Commission – has begun a citywide Arbor Day tree-planting initiative. Local school groups, clubs and church organizations have also coordinated their own cleanup, recycling and environmental education programs.

Plans for revitalizing Brookland’s “old downtown” business district were also featured in this year’s award entry. The city recently purchased two historic buildings for restoration and, after the projects are completed, the Brookland City Council plans to use the buildings to house a historical museum and new library. Currently, the buildings are enrolled in the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s Brownfields Program for cleanup, and the city plans to use reclaimed materials in the buildings’ restoration. Efforts are also under way to determine whether these buildings will be eligible for listing on the National Historic Register.

“We hope that these restored buildings will provide our residents with excellent places to gather and learn more about their city’s history,” Jones remarked. “I believe these projects will also inspire further downtown revitalization efforts which, in combination with current city and Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce endeavors, will continue to draw new industry to Brookland.”

“KAB is eager to recognize the well-rounded efforts by communities all across the state and their commitment to civic improvement,” 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 and community development.”

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.

Other 2011 Arkansas Shine Award recipients are Bentonville (Benton County), Harrison (Boone County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), Nashville (Howard County) and Arkansas Shine Superstar Award winner Fayetteville (Washington County)

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