Utopia receives prestigious environmental award
By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor
Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) has recognized Utopia as one of 10 winners of the 2014 Governor's Community Achievement Awards (GCAA) for outstanding community improvement.
The award is one of the most coveted annual environmental and community improvement honors in Texas. Winners will share $2 million in landscape funding from the Texas Department of Transportation with Utopia receiving $90,000 for a landscaping project along a local state right-of-way. Communities submitted materials to one of 10 population categories. Judges chose the winners based on their achievements in seven environmental and community improvement areas - community leadership and coordination, education, public awareness, litter prevention and cleanup, litter law and illegal dumping enforcement, beautification and community improvement and solid waste management.
Keep Utopia Beautiful (KUB) works on a number of environmental efforts including litter prevention, recycling, waste reduction, beautification, water conservation and composting. Throughout the year KUB participates in cleanups and environmental education programs with the school, in addition to maintaining community landscape projects.
In 2013, KUB had over 3,381 hours of donated labor, valued at almost $75,000. At Utopia Recycles, the flagship program, 40 volunteers gave 2,500 hours where 57 tons of recyclable commodities were shipped in 2013.
The many cleanups and beautification efforts have improved the appearance of Utopia, resulting in a positive impact on tourism, one of the community's economic development efforts.
Doris Howdeshell, chairman of the KUB Board of Directors, said, "Utopia is a tiny, unincorporated community, run strictly by volunteer workers. It's the volunteers who won this award, and it's just wonderful to see them rewarded with the Governor's Community Achievement Award for all their hard work. By working with volunteers, KUB has truly carried out its mission, which is to be nurturing stewards of our canyonlands."
Utopia will receive the award on Tuesday, June 24, in Austin during Keep Texas Beautiful's 47th annual conference. Since 1969, the Governor's Community Achievement Award program has recognized outstanding communities, and TxDOT has provided landscaping awards since 1985.
Keep Utopia Beautiful, a Gold Star Affiliate of Keep Texas Beautiful, is a nonprofit corporation that operates Utopia Recycles and serves the unincorporated community of Utopia on the Sabinal River in far northeastern Uvalde County, as well as other small towns and rural areas in Uvalde, Real and Bandera counties. For more information on programs and events, visit www.keeputopiabeautiful.org.
Keep Texas Beautiful, a statewide grassroots environmental and community improvement nonprofit, educates and engages Texans to be responsible for improving their community environment. KTB and its more than 360 affiliates work with government, businesses, civic groups and volunteers to ensure that every Texan has the opportunity to make Texas the cleanest, most beautiful state in the nation. For more information on programs and events, call 1-800-CLEAN-TX or visit www.ktb.org