Keep Starkville Beautiful becomes official

Keep Mississippi Beautiful Executive Director Sarah Kountouris (left) and Keep America Beautiful representative Sue Smith (right) present a certificate of affiliation to Vice-Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A'. Perkins (center), acknowledging Keep Starkville Beautiful as an official affiliate. (Photo by Sarah Raines, SDN)
Staff Writer

After a logo branding and affiliation ceremony on Friday afternoon, Starkville is officially an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, a nation-wide organization that encourages citizens to improve their community by keeping it clean and healthy.

Keep America Beautiful breaks down to state levels and then to city levels. Keep Starkville Beautiful is the 41st affiliate in Keep Mississippi Beautiful.

Representatives from Keep America Beautiful and Keep Mississippi Beautiful spoke at Starkville's affiliation ceremony in the City Hall courtroom on Friday, welcoming the city to its campaign.

During the ceremony, Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker unveiled the logo for "Keep Starkville Beautiful." The logo was designed by Starkville's own City Planner Daniel Havelin.

After the unveiling, Keep America Beautiful representative Sue Smith and Keep Mississippi Beautiful Executive Director Sarah Kountouris presented Vice-Mayor and ward 6 Alderman Roy A'. Perkins with a certificate of affiliation.

Director of Sanitation and Environmental Services and Chair of Keep Starkville Beautiful Emma Gandy said there are organizations around town already active in recycling and focused on litter-control. Having Keep Starkville Beautiful will help pull all of those organizations together under one initiative.

Gandy said the next steps are to recruit and get the brand out to the community.

"The mission is education, beautification, sustainability and growth," Gandy said. "We want to get the community involved."

Kountouris said becoming an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful is not an easy process. There are requirements and pre-certifications that must be met to become a part of the campaign. In order to become a part of Keep America Beautiful, Keep Starkville Beautiful had to come up with a mission statement and had to create a logo to represent the city's branding.

A litter survey was also taken as a requirement of becoming an affiliate.

Havelin said students and volunteers did a litter survey of 53 sites, between a half mile and a mile in length, that were scattered through all seven Wards of the city.

The system was rated from one to four — one being minimum litter and four being extremely littered. Havelin said the Starkville community scored 1.94, which falls just below the "slightly littered" category.

Director of Parks and Recreation Herman Peters announced his department will partner with volunteers and events like "Get Swept Up Day," a cleaning day held by the city of Starkville every year on the Wednesday before Mississippi State University's first home game of the season.

"It has been a long process for them (the Keep Starkville Beautiful Committee), working and making the training happen," Kountouris said. "They had a homework list that they had to complete. They have done very well and we look for great things with Keep Starkville Beautiful."

Kountouris said several members of the board of directors from Keep Mississippi Beautiful are Mississippi State University graduates, and they are excited to welcome Starkville into the campaign.

"Starkville is very progressive, and I think you've got a great leadership team with Keep Starkville Beautiful," Kountouris said.