Statesboro and Bulloch County again have a Keep America Beautiful affiliate program, but this time it’s Keep Statesboro Bulloch Beautiful, hosted by the city.
Previously the program operated as Keep Bulloch Beautiful, without “Statesboro” in its name, but became inactive after the departure of its director several years ago. After discussions with county officials in 2016 and receipt of a $10,000 grant with support from state Rep. Jan Tankersley of Brooklet, the city of Statesboro relaunched the program this summer.
"Living near the coast my whole life has really given me an appreciation for our environment and our ecosystem, and I think it's really important to preserve that in any way that we can,” said Megan Jackson, who began work July 31 as part-time KSBB coordinator.
Jackson, who grew up in the Savannah area, went to the University of Georgia for a bachelor’s degree, then came to Georgia Southern University for her graduate studies. She received her Master of Public Administration, with a concentration in nonprofit management, in December 2015.
While completing her studies, Jackson worked as a graduate assistant and then worked in a couple of different departments at Georgia Southern, most recently as an administrative coordinator in continuing education.
"This is my first non-Georgia Southern job,” she said in an Aug. 31 interview.
At that time she was working on the bylaws for KSBB so that a board can be established. The bylaws will be presented to City Council for approval, she said.
"Then I'm also meeting with various groups in the community to establish cooperative relationships and partnerships that will be in effect later on to help to improve and continue to keep Statesboro beautiful,” Jackson said.
She was also actively learning more about Keep America Beautiful and the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation, she said.
The former Keep Bulloch Beautiful rallied local volunteers for the Great American Cleanup each April. So restarting the Great American Cleanup here is part of Jackson’s assignment. But KSBB may host a community cleanup sooner than April, she said.
Unlike the former KBB, the relaunched KSBB does not have a role, for now at least, in a recycling program, but Jackson said she will work to promote recycling in the future. She will also look for grant funding for KSBB’s efforts, she said.
"Right now we're really focused on keeping Statesboro clean, with litter prevention and cleanups,” Jackson said. “I hope to organize some community cleanups in the near future and just to beautify the area and promote green spaces and planting."
Jackson can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Restarting a curbside recycling program will not be part of KSBB’s mission, Mayor Jan Moore said in an interview.
“The main two initiatives are going to be to get the Great American Cleanup up and going, and then, obviously, education where you go into schools and you talk about recycling, because we do have recycling centers, we just don’t have curbside right now,” Moore said.
She said she wants to look in time at restarting curbside recycling, but as a billed enterprise service of the city, like water or natural gas, and not under Keep Statesboro Bulloch Beautiful.
After talking to county officials, particularly commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson, about restarting KBB, Moore offered to make it a city-sponsored program. But she believes KSBB will benefit the entire county, she said.
The city sponsorship is a change from the previous Keep Bulloch Beautiful, which “was mainly county but the city did have a participation in it,” Thompson said in an interview. The commissioners may consider participating in funding the new KSBB after seeing how it develops, he said.
“In time, if we could gather information, I certainly think that is a possibility because I know how important the recycling is,” Thompson said. “We do have the county recycling, still, out at the recycling centers and even with the cardboard recycling inside the city limits of Statesboro.”
Before delivering the $10,000 grant to Statesboro, Tankersley had to work in the Legislature to maintain state assistance to the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation. In 2016, state funding to the foundation, then $95,000, was targeted for elimination by auditors who thought it duplicated the services of an industrial recycling program with an entirely different mission, Tankersley said.
She called on legislators with Keep Georgia Beautiful programs in their districts to rally support. The restored state funding, $100,000 in fiscal year 2017, made up less than half of the foundation’s $233,125 revenue.
The foundation, she notes, operates a mobile classroom and goes into schools to teach children about recycling and protecting water and other natural resources.
“It just offers so much, and I felt like it would be a tremendous loss to the state of Georgia if we didn’t continue to have adequate funding for the administrative branch of Keep Georgia Beautiful because they go in and teach the local affiliates, and even give them some local resources,” Tankersley said.
The $10,000 was a one-time grant from the foundation to help in establishing, or in this case relaunching, a local affiliate.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.