Volunteer incentive slots still open for this weekend's Ward 4 cleanup

Local residents clean the streets in this News-Times file photo. A community cleanup for Ward 4 is scheduled Saturday, and slots remain open for volunteer incentives.
Local residents clean the streets in this News-Times file photo. A community cleanup for Ward 4 is scheduled Saturday, and slots remain open for volunteer incentives.

There are three slots left for volunteer teams who would like to participate in the Ward 4 community cleanup, which is set for 9 a.m. Saturday, and receive some cash for their work.

Keep El Dorado Beautiful is working with El Dorado City Council members Buddy McAdams and Dianne Hammond, both of whom represent Ward 4, to coordinate the cleanup.

Hammond is also a member of KEB, a nonprofit organization that is working to build and engage local residents in a sustainable, citywide cleanup campaign that focuses on litter, recycling and beautification.

One project KEB has initiated is working with city officials to coordinate cleanups in each of the city's four wards within the year.

The group offers cash incentives to volunteer teams with at last 10 members who participate in the cleanups.

Youth groups are prioritized in the cash-incentive program, which has space for 10 teams to receive $300 each.

KEB members have said that targeting young people provides the KEB with an opportunity to provide financial assistance for costs that are associated with membership in youth organizations, including sports teams, church groups and youth development and service groups.

Slots that are not claimed by youth organization are open to other groups who would like to sign up for the cash incentives.

Some youth groups, including The Young Artist Studio, regularly host community cleanups and have worked with KEB to adopt city streets to keep clean.

YAS's efforts aligns with a goal by KEB to reach out to area youth and educate them about KEB's mission.

KEB launched the cash-incentive program in 2018, thanks to donation from Clean Harbors -- whose general manager, Dan Roblee, is a member of KEB.

The program ran for two years before going on a three-year hiatus that began in 2020.

Roblee announced in late 2019 that Clean Harbors would not be able to fund the program in 2020 and as KEB explored other potential funding sources, the COVID pandemic broke out.

KEB rebooted the program this year, again with a donation from Clean Harbors, and Janis Van Hook, president of KEB, said the turnout and participation from the community has been overwhelming.

Community cleanups were held last spring in wards 1 and 3.

KEB suspended the program during the summer due to sweltering temperatures and agreed to resume the cleanups when cooler weather set in.

A community cleanup that was held last month in Ward 2 drew 90 volunteers, Van Hook said.

Seven volunteer teams signed up for the cash incentive, leaving three slots open.

With the leftover slots, a total of 13 slots were available for the Ward 4 cleanup on Saturday and Van Hook said three slots remain.

"We were missing three groups from the last cleanup. We filled all of our regular slots for the Ward 4 cleanup and the three that are open are left over from the last cleanup," she explained.

Some youth groups have also taken advantage of a new component KEB added to the cash-incentive program this year: pop-up cleanups.

Groups who are not able to participate in the ward cleanups may reach out to KEB to schedule a pop-up event.

Pop-up teams must also include 10 or more members who complete the work in order to be eligible for the cash incentive.

Van Hook said the Ward 4 cleanup will be the last such event that KEB will host for the year, adding that the group is looking to resume the cash-incentive program next spring.

"We've had a pretty good response so far. Hopefully, we'll have the best turnout of the year on Saturday. This is the last one until 2024," Van Hook said, referring to the Ward 4 cleanup.

All city residents are encouraged to participate, either by volunteering for the cleanup or cleaning up in their own neighborhoods.

Van Hook said several residents in her St. Louis neighborhood and First Baptist Church - Cordell, which is also located in the St. Louis neighborhood, have designated streets to clean in the neighborhood on Saturday.

"We've also asked those in the St. Louis area to get out and clean up because St. Louis is a main artery in Ward 4 and to North West Avenue," she said.

St. Louis surrounds South Arkansas Regional Hospital and other medical offices in the heart of the city's medical community.

Volunteers for the Ward 4 cleanup will meet at 9 a.m. in Old City Park for a briefing and to receive supplies.

They will return to the park at 11:30 a.m. for cash awards and sack lunches.

For more information or to sign up for the Ward 4 cleanup, call Van Hook at 870-918-2706 or Hammond at 870-866-0111.

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