The effort to beautify Fort Smith is ready to get its hands dirty again, following its inaugural event as part of the Great American Cleanup (GAC) in April.
In 2011, the state of Arkansas hosted 211 Great American Cleanup events, but Fort Smith was not in that number. That began to change six months ago with the GAC event, and now appears to be piling up.
The fall event is slated for Oct. 20, and will kickoff at 8 a.m. from Martin Luther King Park. Participants will register on-site, collect cleanup supplies (provided by Keep Arkansas Beautiful), and launch an all-day waste collection campaign.
Arvest Bank has agreed to provide refreshments, Linder said, and a number of groups have issued verbal commitments to participate.
“Last time, we had groups like the Kiwanis Club, Downtown Rotary, Christmas Honors, Webster University, the National Honor Society from (Fort Smith) Southside (High School), the 188th Fighter Wing, and the Citizens Academy alumni (participate),” Linder said.
Linder hopes to see an increase in participation the second time around, adding that “if you’re a Scout Troop or a church group, we want you to come and join us.”
One difference from this event compared to the first, Linder said, is that “we’ve already received verbal commitments from groups, who care for a certain area and want to claim it.”
Linder continued: “We’ve asked the Dog Park group, and they said they’re going to plan to be out there on that day. The River Valley Chapter of the Arkansas Canoe Club plans to address the Power Point Section of the Arkansas River. They’re trying to do a kayak water trail where kayakers get out on the river and have places to stop and have access to the land. Also, the Mercy Cycling Club has told us they will probably be picking up Massard Trail. We’re hoping that if people love something, they will want to clean it up and keep it that way.”
Participation also does not have to be confined to the event, Linder added.
“I wish people would come out (to the event), but you don’t have to be part of our group. Even if it’s just claiming a space that you drive by every day, you need to say, ‘Don’t mess with my space.’ We want people not just for one day, but to work with us and figure out what we need to do with this city to make it look better.”
The Fort Smith Police Department will be involved in the campaign.
Fort Smith Police Chief Kevin Lindsey said his department will participate through an active “media awareness campaign against littering.”
“We’re also asking our officers, if they do notice any littering, to approach citizens and, if necessary, issue a citation,” he added.
Lindsey said the cost of a citation would consist of a $250 fine and $140 “court cost,” adding up to $390. “That’s a pretty expensive piece of trash,” Lindsey said.
When asked how often citations are issued for littering by the Fort Smith Police Department, Lindsey responded, “To my knowledge, never,” adding that it would be “a special focus” for the month.
The Fort Smith Department of Sanitation will also be involved in citywide cleanup efforts on Oct. 20, placing four containers in each of the city’s wards at the following locations.
• Grand Avenue Baptist Church, north parking lot, directly across from the building at 3900 Grand Avenue (Ward 1).
• Parking lot 1 Block East of North 50th and Plum Streets (Ward 2).
• Evans Boys & Girls Club at 6015 Boys Club Lane near Jenny Lind (Ward 3).
• Goldtrap-Gardner Boys & Girls Club at 8800 Dallas Street (Ward 4).
Fort Smith Sanitation Administrative Secretary Stacy Vanourny said that each of the containers would be staffed by temporary employees working for the sanitation department from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. starting on Oct. 20 and going through Oct. 27.
Vanourny said the containers would be “for residents to bring their household trash, furniture and appliances, and discard those at no charge.”
No commercial haulers will be permitted, nor will hazardous waste, which includes “car batteries, engine oil, cleaning chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, paint, or liquids of any kind,” Vanourny said.
Hazardous chemicals can be disposed of any time, “at no charge,” at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility, Vanourny added.
“We also can’t take tires, grass leaves, or brush, (at the containers) per ADEQ Regulations, and there is a charge for leaves or brush at the landfill. Tires can be taken to pretty much any tire store up to four passenger tires at no charge,” Vanourny said.
The April event witnessed “approximately 200 people,” Linder said, and was initiated by herself, Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders, and Fort Smith Director Pam Weber. Once again, Fort Smith Sanitation will be in charge of final disposal.
For more information or to pre-register, Linder can be reached at (479) 452-3785.