KCNB wins national environmental award

COVINGTON -- Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful has been garnering lots of praise lately for its many efforts to encourage locals to reduce, reuse and recycle.

KCNB has won its first national award in more than 10 years. The organization was named the Keep America Beautiful First Place Affiliate for locations with a population of 50,001 to 200,000.

"We compete with all our peers in other communities across the country," said Program Education Specialist Laurie Riley. "Basically, we were chosen as the best affiliate in our population all across the country."

KCNB Director Connie Waller will fly to Washington D.C. to accept the award in December.

In addition, KCNB won second place in the Keep Georgia Beautiful Affiliate Award in the 75,000 to 150,000 population range.

The Newton County School System also won a state award, taking home the second place Keep Georgia Beautiful Waste Reduction and Recycling Award.

The award was based primarily on the implementation of a Styrofoam tray recycling program in 2008 and adding an environmental coordinator to the school maintenance division, Riley said.

The environmental coordinator is responsible for integrating environmentally responsible programs into the schools and overseeing day-to-day activities of school custodians and serves as a recycling monitor, according to Deputy Superintendent Dennis Carpenter.

KCNB partnered with the school system on the tray recycling program and also on efforts to get recycling bins in each classroom.

Finally, Eastside High School freshman Mary Lathem has been named 2009 Student of the Year for Keep Georgia Beautiful.

"We nominated her based on her involvement in environmental activities as well as other community activities," Riley said.

Lathem is a member of KCNB's Recycling Committee. She was a founding member of Clean Team, a group that partnered with KCNB and the Newton County Recreation Commission to clean up ballparks.

An active 4-H member, in 2008, she enlisted the help of Home Depot, KCNB and her fellow 4-Hers for a service project that won several district and state awards. The project focused on educating the public about water conservation through games, surveys and displays.

Lathem has been a volunteer with KCNB since 2005 and is currently a student intern for the Communications Committee, serving as a liaison between KCNB and the local high schools.