By: Claire Tribble
As we near the end of 2023, I’ve been thinking about what a wild and wonderful year it has been. I started at Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful January 2, 2023. I have learned so much and met so many wonderful people in the whirlwind of a year that was 2023. Every success and accomplishment are because of the amazing volunteers, sponsors, and donors that have gone above and beyond for Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful.
When I started, I hit the ground running planning the 2023 Earth Day Expo. It was a lot of work, but worth every bit of it. Our event sponsors showed out, and we had one of the biggest Earth Day Expos we’ve ever had. We had over 40 vendors, 3 main attractions, and over 1200 attendees. To say it was an adventure is an understatement. One of my predecessors told me, “There ain’t no tired like Earth Day tired.” That statement was 100% fact.
In between the time I started and Earth Day, we had two big litter cleanups. The Annual United Pest and Turf Control in Ardmore was the first cleanup. I had no idea what to expect, but the crew from United Pest and Turf Control were fantastic, and a real pleasure to work with! They wrangled about 60 volunteers who worked through a cold morning to pick up 1,000 pounds of litter from Ardmore. We haven’t set a date for the 2024 cleanup yet, but we can’t wait to do it again!
The next big cleanup was the TVA Trash Attack at the Tennessee River. This cleanup was unbelievably successful! We had over 70 volunteers, many from InTech, a company here in Athens. With the hard work of all the volunteers and Limestone County District 3 Commissioner Derrick Gatlin and his crew, we were able to remove 7,820 pounds of litter and trash from Dairy Road, Hatchett Ridge Road, and the Cowford Campground. I never expected such numbers — I was blown away by the work of the volunteers.
Next came the Household Hazardous Waste Collection in May. This event was HUGE! Once again, Commissioners Derrick Gatlin and LaDon Townsend volunteered with their crews to help me and the Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful board with this wildly successful event. We saw 491 cars come through to dispose of harmful chemicals in four hours…in the POURING rain. We are so grateful that Limestone County residents utilize this free service, and we hope that the response continues to grow. This was one of the largest HHW collections since we started. I can’t thank the volunteers enough because it was an absolutely miserable day!
I don’t want to underappreciate all the individual cleanups that volunteers have participated in by any means. These small cleanups are instrumental to our mission. They add up and keep things manageable. My office assistant Earl and I have been going out a couple of times a week and cleaning up concentrated areas, and it has made an impact. We’ve picked up over 1,000 pounds of trash in five cleanups so far. So clearly, it adds up.
So, as I enter my second year at Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful, I have big plans. I’ve learned how most things work as far as planning and implementation goes. So, my goal for the next year is to go bigger and more frequently. I hope to have more cleanups, both large and individual. I want to make the Earth Day Expo a bigger event for Limestone County and remain a free event. While I know that I can plan all day long, I also know that I must rely on volunteers and sponsorships. I want everyone to know just how much I value both. None of this would be possible without the wonderful people of Limestone County. So, thank you for an amazing year.
By: Claire Tribble
Executive Director, Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful