Rogers sets goal of 30,000 volunteers for PRIDE cleanup month
Above, U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers shakes hands with Corbin City Commissioner Ed Tye.
Local city and county organizers attended a special training session in London last week to prepare for the annual PRIDE Spring Cleanup in April, and Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers set a goal for the group — “back to 30!”
Rogers spoke to the gathering at the Cumberland Valley Area Development District office last Thursday and dozens of Eastern Kentucky PRIDE organizers were on hand. He exhorted them to make every effort to turn out 30,000 volunteers for April’s cleanup efforts this year.
Two years ago, 33,000 volunteers showed up for PRIDE cleanups. Last year, the number had dipped to 27,000.
Rogers said overall, he’s been amazed at the difference the 16-year-old program has made on the landscape of the 42-county area it serves.
“It’s been phenomenal the pride the people of eastern Kentucky have shown in themselves, in their communities, in their churches, their businesses and their homes,” Rogers said. “You’ve just made this this old congressman pleased and happy to say I represent the people with the most pride in the state of Kentucky.”
The PRIDE initiative was launched in 1997 by Rogers the late General James Bickford the former Secretary of the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet. Their vision was to restore the natural beauty of their native region by encouraging citizens to take responsibility for protecting their environment and by providing the education and resources they need to do so.
The PRIDE initiative is coordinated by Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, Inc., a nonprofit organization. It links citizens with the resources of local, state, and federal agencies to improve the region’s water quality, clean up solid waste problems, and advance environmental education.
Eastern Kentucky PRIDE has developed a variety of programs over the years, including PRIDE Community Grants for local cleanup projects, PRIDE SuperGrants for removing massive illegal dumps, PRIDE Wastewater Construction Grants for expanding sewer services, PRIDE Homeowner Septic System Grants for low-income homeowners, and PRIDE Environmental Education Grants for hands-on stewardship lessons.
Rogers noted in his speech last week the PRIDE volunteers gathered 50,000 bags of trash alone during cleanups last year, and recycled 90 tons of appliances and other materials. All told, over its 16-year-history, the effort has gathered and disposed of 961,625 old tires.
“They will no longer spoil your streams or mar your hillside views,” Rogers said.
“You made a difference. You can drive through any part of eastern Kentucky now and you don’t see the trash and litter you used to see.”
The slogan for this year’s PRIDE Spring Cleanup is: “Be a PRIDE Champion, Knock out litter.” McCreary County third grader Casey Stevens came up with the slogan and designed the official t-shirt for this year’s cleanup effort.
Rogers told the story of a cleanup he attended last year where he noticed an old man picking up trash. He said the man explained he was volunteering with his eight-year-old granddaughter because he had thrown so much trash out of his car window as a younger man; he wanted to help the younger generation solve the problem he contributed to.
“What you are doing is you are raising up a whole generation of people who are not going to throw trash out anymore,” Rogers said. “They see what it does and they’ve had to pick it up. It’s a wonderful opportunity to serve mankind.”
This year, PRIDE is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Office and the state of Kentucky to distribute more information about the importance of recycling to the PRIDE initiative.
After Rogers spoke, organizers learned about recycling, E-scrap and tire amnesty programs, received 2013 Spring Cleanup volunteer recruitment and award compliance information and were distributed cleaning materials for the cleanup efforts.
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