Lace up your working shoes or shine up your canoe! Catoosa County is kicking off an effort to become a prettier place and officials are asking for citizens' help.
May 2017 will be the beginning of the county's "Keep Catoosa Beautiful" campaign. Individual citizens, Scouts troops and church, civic and school groups are invited to join together for a day of making Catoosa County more beautiful.
"This county has been called one of the few remaining Mayberrys," says County Manager Jim Walker. "But it won't remain that way if we don't take care of it."
The clean-up day on May 13 is a kick-off for a more aggressive attempt to deal with the problem of people dumping everything from cigarette butts to household trash to mattresses and furniture along roadways, says Walker.
"This county belongs to all of us," says Catoosa Commission Chairman Steven Henry. "If we want to live in a beautiful place, we need to all pitch in to keep it that way. We hope to see a greater sense of pride and responsibility develop in our citizens."
Catoosa Public Works Director Buster Brown and his staff have identified 12 roads that are in special need of cleaning up. The county's new Parks and Recreation director, Travis Barbee, will be heading up a crew of canoe and kayak volunteers to help clean up a stretch of Chickamauga Creek.
"We don't live down-stream from anyone," says Brown. "The trash that gets dumped in Catoosa County is dumped by our own citizens, not outsiders."
Walker agrees. "This is an inside job. We're doing this to ourselves. It shows a lack of interest in other people, a lack of interest in the county, a lack of interest in the environment and a lack of self-respect."
Unfortunately, says Walker, the people who love their county are the ones who are left to clean up after those who trash it. But the county plans to work on a remedy.
"We're going to buckle down on the Tarp Law," says Walker. "That will keep trash from flying out of trucks. We're looking into adding surveillance, and we'll be searching dumped trash for identification. We're also looking at the possibility of starting a hotline so citizens can easily report it when they see someone toss trash on the road."
In the meantime,
officials are hoping those who love their county will join hands on May 13 to get the beauti-fication ball rolling.
"This is our home," says Walker. "We need to follow the Boy Scout policy of always leaving a place better than we found it. We should do it for our children. For those who want to live in a trash can, please go find one to live in instead of making one out of Catoosa County."
Volunteers for road clean-up crews need to gather at the Amphitheater at Benton Place Campus (220 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold) at 8 a.m., Saturday, May 13. Each volunteer will be asked to sign a release form and will be issued a safety vest and equipment for cleaning up. Volunteers will be taken to their designated cleanup points by Trans-Aid buses and will be accompanied by county employees. Clean-up runs from approximately 9 a.m. to noon.
Volunteers will be returned to Benton Place Campus after clean-up and are invited to stay for a free cookout sponsored by Shane Catlett of Modern Woodmen of America. Participants will be recognized for their help in beautifying their county. Volunteers need to call 706-965-2500 to sign up, or they can sign up on the Catoosa County web site at: www.catoosa.com/keepcatoosabeautiful. Individuals, Scout groups, church, civic and school groups, and others are welcome to participate. Volunteers must be 12 years old or older. All minors must be accompanied by an adult.
Chickamauga Creek paddle pickup
Volunteers need to bring their own canoe or kayak (or other appropriate boat) to the Fort Oglethorpe Canoe Launch at 2542 Battlefield Parkway. Parking is next to O'Charley's restaurant. Launch time is 8 a.m., Saturday, May 13. Volunteers will be supplied with cleanup materials. Take out will be at West Chickamauga Creek Launch at 82 Dietz Rd., Ringgold, around 11 a.m. Grilled hamburgers and hotdogs will be provided by the Catoosa County Parks and Recreation Department for volunteers at the take out location from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. To participate in the Paddle Pickup, volunteers must RSVP by calling 706-891-4199.
Landfill Amnesty Day is May 20, 8 a.m. to noon. The landfill is located at 75 Shope Ridge Rd. in Ringgold.
Proof of Catoosa County residency is required (e.g., driver's license, power bill, voter registration).
No commercial waste will be accepted.
No mattresses, hazardous materials, or refrigerants will be accepted.
Up to four tires per person will be accepted.
For more information: 706-937-4564
Saturday, May 20, will be Amnesty Day at the Catoosa County Landfill. Citizens will be able to bring trash, brush and yard debris, and larger items for disposal at no cost.
Amnesty Day is part of the "Keep Catoosa Beautiful" campaign, an effort to improve the appearance of the county and inspire pride in citizens.
"When people dump trash," says Catoosa County Manager Jim Walker, "it impacts our environment, the natural beauty of our area, our property values and possible tax increases in our county."
Of 159 counties in the state of Georgia, Walker says, only 15 have a lower property tax rate than Catoosa. "That rate can't stay so low if the county has to hire extra staff dedicated to picking up trash people throw out on the road."
Catoosa Public Works Director Buster Brown says he oversees 427 miles of county-maintained roads. "We don't have the resources to keep up with illegal dumping without more employees and higher taxes to pay for it."
To get citizens off on a good foot, the county has worked with Santek, the company that manages the landfill, to sponsor a day of free disposal.
Citizens are urged to use this opportunity to clean up their yards and get rid of yard debris, household trash, waste and recyclables. Some restrictions do apply.
The Children's Advocacy Center of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit (CACLMJC) recently moved to new location in Fort Oglethorpe just in time to raise awareness about April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The center, which specializes in the intervention and prevention of child abuse, moved from its old location behind Cornerstone Medical Center to West Forrest Drive a few streets away.
After the March 8 move, the organization held an open house on Thursday, April 13, to introduce people to its new facility.
"We've made it our own," said CAC Executive Director Aleks Jagiella-Litts. "We have our therapy rooms, interview room, medical room, two therapists on staff, a real-time viewing room, and our board room. We also really want to become an education arm, so we want to start offering support groups and do more education, which is exciting."
The new facility is the former headquarters of Joy Carpets, a company that did a lot in assisting CAC with its move.
"Joy Carpets did the build-out for us and they've been so great," Jagiella-Litts said. "They have just gone above and beyond to take care of us, which has been really nice."
CAC is a non-profit organization that is always looking for ways to prevent child abuse, break cycles of abuse within families, and raise funds to be able to support the local children in need.
"We're always looking for funding," Jagiella-Litts said. "We would love to get some new items. If anyone has old gift cards they might be willing to donate, that would be great because then we can take those even if they just have like $10 on it, and go to Dillard's or somewhere and purchase a couple of little things to add. We would love to get new jackets and things like that. During the winter time, that's something we're always in need of so we can make sure kids have what the attire they need when it's cold."
To raise more awareness and further educate people, Jagiella-Litts says the center is planning a Child Abuse conference on Oct. 2 at the Dalton
"We're partnering with Dalton to try to make it bigger with more exposure and more speakers," she said. "We're bringing in some experts on human trafficking and really trying to make a law enforcement track, a Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS) and social work track, and also a therapy track to get people some really good information. Unfortunately, these things aren't going away, so we want try to educate as best we can."
For more information about the upcoming conference or the CAC in general, visit them online at www.caclmjc.com, or call 706-866-8811.