Thursday, April 25, 2024

Great Granbury Cleanup set for April 13

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Hood County residents will soon be donning reflective yellow vests and sturdy work gloves as they prepare for one of the city’s newest programs: the Great Granbury Cleanup.

Beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 13, at Hewlett Park, 650 E. Pearl St., teams of four people or more will pick up trash around frequented roadways in town, like U.S. Highway 377 and state Highway 144.

The city initiative was originally created by Mayor Pro-Tem Steven Vale, who came up with the idea in 2023 while attending a Texas Municipal League training session in San Antonio.

"The Texas beautification people were there — you know, ‘Don't Mess with Texas’ — and so I talked to them a bunch and I had a conversation with . . . City Manager Chris Coffman on the ride back, and he was very supportive,” Vale told the Hood County News. “We kind've got the wheels turning and we turned the event around pretty quickly.”

Vale said the idea was also inspired by growing up with his father, Richard, who would go out in the evenings, walk the dog, smoke a cigar and pick up trash around the neighborhood.

"I think I said this at city council when I talked about the programming a year ago that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree,” he said. “Anywhere I go now if I see trash, I pick it up. I think a clean community is very important. We're a tourist destination, we're a growing community and we have a lot of guests here. If you invited somebody over to your house, what would you do? You would straighten up a little bit and make it as nice as you could for when you entertain guests, and I feel that way about our community. I think it's important that we put our best foot forward and we present the community in the best possible way we can.”

According to an article from Texas Town and City Magazine, most cities partner with “Keep Texas Beautiful,” (KTB) — a nonprofit organization dedicated to making Texas the best place to live, work and play by deploying resources for community improvement projects, cleanups, and youth engagement efforts across the state. However, in early March last year, it was too late for Granbury to forge a full partnership with KTB, so different routes needed to be discovered.

While the city’s utility billing staff and communications team picked a date and time for the event, the city of Crowley also assisted by sharing ideas for how the community cleanup could be successful.

After social media posts, web page announcements, news releases, videos and flyers were created, the Great Granbury Cleanup officially launched Saturday, April 22, 2023.

With help from Granbury Independent School District and members of local civic groups, more than 2,000 pounds of trash was gathered by volunteers — a task that took less than three hours to complete.

"I think we're going to have more people this year than we did last year,” Vale said. “I belong to the Rotary (Club of Granbury) and that should have 20 or 25 people. We've got kids from the middle school, high school, a bunch of other civic organizations, as well as just people who have a passion and want to see our community clean.”

Although last October’s Great Granbury Cleanup was rained out, Communications Manager Jeff Newpher said he hopes the event will eventually grow to become a more frequented occasion.

"There's a lot of moving parts behind this,” Newpher said. “We would love to do it more often than just once or twice a year. We'd love to have it four times, but there's some other things that we need to get in place to make that happen.”

During the cleanup event, each team member will be given a trash bag and a vest, while the team leader will be given a map of a public area in Granbury for the team to clean up.

“We're going to try and have 40 locations, where 40 different teams can go," Newpher said. "Last year, we asked for people to send in places that are along the main streets that they would like to be cleaned up. We didn't get too many of those, so we said, ‘We'll just go out and scout it ourselves.’ We don't clean anybody's private property. We just clean the right-of-way.”

Safety instructions along with a video about how and what to pick up will also be shown to volunteers prior to leaving Hewlett Park for the cleanup.

"People aren't used to being out walking by the side of the road, so it's good to give them a refresher on keeping your distance from the traffic,” Newpher said. “That's what we want the most is we want people to have a good time, but most of all, we want them to be safe.”

After volunteers fill up a trash bag, they will be instructed to leave the bag at the cleanup area; a city staff member will be by later to pick it up.

“They fill up the trash bags, and then around noon, city of Granbury parks and recreation staff will just go up and down picking up the trash and putting it into city pickup trucks, and then that will be taken to some big roll off dumpsters at the back of Hewlett Park,” Newpher said. “That’s how we collected those 2,000 pounds of trash last year.”

Newpher said the city has great community partners with the Great Granbury Cleanup, like Waste Connections that will provide the fluorescent yellow vests, Kroger that will supply a bottle of water for each volunteer, and TxDOT that will provide volunteers with strong garbage bags.

“The school district is organizing a new generation of older students who want to be part of this cleanup effort, and of course, the city of Granbury sponsors it as a sort of underwriting. It’s kind of like our thing,” he said. “But we welcome our community partners.”

Newpher said the most surprising comment he heard from people who participated in the Great Granbury Cleanup last year is how much fun people had during the event.

“You don't think putting on a pair of gloves, then coming out on a Saturday morning, and getting some trash bags, grabbers and vests, and going out with three friends to a location to pick up trash is going to be fun,” he said. “But that's the most surprising comment I heard from people was, ‘This was fun to do. We want to do this again.' I heard that not only from Girl Scouts that were there with their parents and troop leaders, but from senior citizens."

Newpher and Vale added that the city is also working on a behind-the-scenes project to eventually launch Keep Granbury Beautiful, where the city would become a beautification affiliate with the state of Texas.

“We’re in the process of putting a board together with some bylaws, which is required by the state,” Vale said. “The members would be responsible for doing some of the organization, and the city would still be the funding mechanism.”

"The city would continue to support the Great Granbury Cleanup but what we would like to do is have the city kind of support and help launch ‘Keep Granbury Beautiful’ so that residents and citizens could take over doing this,” Newpher said. “The city would still support it, but it would really be a community organization. The Great Granbury Cleanup is really a portion of a larger focus on keeping Granbury beautiful.”

Volunteers are encouraged to pre-register for the Great Granbury Cleanup by going online to granbury.org/cleanup online.

“It's really something for all ages,” Newpher added. “It's not a competition. You can make it one if you want to, but we just want people to come and have fun.”

“We want this to be a safe, friendly activity, and I think it's another opportunity to create some unity in the community,” Vale added. “I always say Granbury is a community in unity, and I think this is another program that we can further demonstrate that we come together for all sorts of things — this is just one activity.”