That’s why members of the local KAB affiliate and the community gathered Thursday at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce to remember and celebrate its successes over the past two decades and look forward to continuing even greater successes in the future.
“This is a huge milestone for the Cleveland and Bradley community,” said Joanne Maskew, executive director for the Cleveland/Bradley KAB. “We had no idea this program would grow and expand like it has."
Maskew remembers working for five years to get the Environmental Court to Cleveland. This court is set up to make area residents and the community aware of the local environmental laws they need to follow. Basically, it’s a unique and beneficial education program.
The Coalition for Community Improvement is another program which assists the elderly, shut-ins or the disabled who also have a low income to conduct a one-time clean up of their property so they won’t have to pay fines because of not meeting upkeep laws.
“People need to know we are here to serve them,” Maskew said.
Over the past 20 years, the local KAB won the national award for the Glad-Bag-Athon (now called the annual Great American Cleanup) in 1996; the President’s Circle Recognition Award in 2003 to the present; as well as having started the White Glove Award program in 2004 which is given to an individual, civic organization, school or business that exemplifies excellence in their commitment to the environment.
Since 2005, KAB’s Business Beautification Award has recognized area businesses that project an image of making the community pleasing to the eye.
In 2007, KAB was a significant force in helping to develop the Coalition for Community Improvement Committee.
And, just this year, KAB also has earned the Keep Tennessee Beautiful and the TDOT (Tennessee Department of Transportation) Martin Kennedy Award for Outstanding KAB Affiliate Coordinator.
For the coming year, KAB will continue improving the environment, as well as educating people through school programs, talks, showcases and presentations about the environment.
“Anything to get the word out,” Maskew said.
KAB’s additional mission this year is “to help local citizens to rebuild their lives to some normalcy” after the April 27 disaster, Maskew said.
KAB also is encouraging people to volunteer.
"Over the past 20 years, volunteers that care have made a huge difference in this community," said Howard Cobbs, community development coordinator from the Tennessee KAB organization in Memphis. "The Cleveland/Bradley KAB is one of the longest running KABs in Tennessee, as well as one of the most active chapters, winning lots of awards ... It does a greater and better job every year."
A significant reason for this success is due to the cooperation between the city and the county.
Bringing the last 20 years full circle, both the first president of the KAB, Ron Braam, now retired and a consultant for Manufacturers Chemical, and Jim Davis, the current president who is employed by Crye-Leike Realtors,were in attendance marking the event.
Both presidents, as well as Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, and Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce, all talked about the future hope that curbside recycling will be started again.
“We absolutely need curbside recycling again,” Braam said. “And I believe the community will respond, reducing the amount of trash in the landfill, as well as providing more jobs.”
Lots of city's have mandated recycling programs, the mayor added.
"”We can't afford not to have curbside recycling,” Mayor Rowland said.
Davis pointed out he is often asked by potential home buyers and new residents why Cleveland doesn't have a recycling program. He also added that there must be a great need for a recycling program because there is always a stream of cars at the recycling center.
Farlow added that a recycling program would help the whole community, extend the life of the landfill and beautify the community.
For more information or to find out how to get involved, call Maskew at 559-3307 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.