KIBA recruits volunteers for citywide deep-clean (KNH, Oct. 16, 2013)

2012 Make Kilgore Shine

Kilgore High School Hi-Steppers clean a flower bed on Main Street during the 2012 Make Kilgore Shine. Volunteers are needed for this year’s event set for Nov. 9. KNH ARCHIVE PHOTO

It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.

In their commitment to keep Kilgore’s tax rate low, city leaders can’t afford to send employees out to pick-up litter on each and every street in town, Gene Keenon says.

“It’s up to citizens to volunteer to do that, take pride in the community,” Allied Waste’s manager of municipal and government affairs insisted Tuesday. “You’ve got to clean it up.”

Each year, Kilgore Improvement & Beautification Association – which Keenon chairs – leads the litter clean-up charge through Make Kilgore Shine. Last year, about 270 volunteers spread throughout the city limits, tackling two tons of trash build-up on about 60 streets.

They’re the streets where the volunteers live, Keenon said. They’re the streets where they work.

“They are routes that they travel and have seen that somebody needs to do something about it so they’re taking the initiative to go out and clean these streets themselves,” he said.

This year’s four-hour Make Kilgore Shine is set from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 9.

In case of rain, the litter abatement’s alternate-date is set for the same time Nov. 16, “ which is very important to remember because we still will clean up the city before our Christmas holiday season, before our visitors and returning hometown folks come in for the holidays,” Keenon explained. “They can see how clean our city is. Of course, we’re especially proud of all the improvements downtown.

“This is the opportunity that we as citizens of Kilgore can get out and make a difference.”

Currently, Keenon is making the rounds recruiting sponsors for the event’s freeto all-volunteers T-shirts. Each volunteer is requested – and encouraged – to bring their own work gloves for litter clean-up, but trash bags are furnished and Republic Services/Allied Waste will once again donate the use of a trash collection truck to pick up the full bags.

“Citizens don’t have to carry the trash back to their homes or haul it themselves. Once the bags are full, they leave it on the sidewalk or curb or corner then the Allied truck picks it up,” Keenon noted.

Sponsored and organized by KIBA, the annual event is in honor of the late Debbie Phillips, a dedicated member of the beautification group and early devotee of the clean-up program.

2013 brings a new wrinkle to the yearly pre-holidays clean-up, Keenon added.

“There’s the Adopt-a- Street Program the beautification committee is trying to promote again,” he said. “The city beautification committee is trying to revitalize that, so this might be a good opportunity” for volunteers to clean their select street and reserve it for the future.

Event sponsors can signup by calling 903-986- 5318. Volunteers and groups can call the same number to reserve their Tshirts and preferred street – “If no one answers, they can leave a message and a phone call will be returned,” Keenon noted.

Each year, the event draws a wide range of volunteers from city council members and scout groups to school employees, student groups, sports teams and church helpers.

“Basically, you just have to get a group together,” Keenon said. “They can be a group of 10 or 20 or 50, it doesn’t matter: they can go out with you on these streets and pick the litter up … somebody needs to do it.”

By James Draper,