Keep Knoxville Beautiful Highlights


Knox County, the City of Knoxville and the Chamber of Commerce jointly created the Greater Knoxville Beautification Board. The original organizing committee included Mary Lou Horner, Jean Teague, Bee DeSelm, Ernest Youngblood and Barbara Apking. The Beautification Board became a Keep America Beautiful affiliate that year.


The first full-year budget for the Beautification Board was $16,850. Neighborhood cleanup and tree planting committees were activated. The first community-wide photometric index of litter was conducted in accordance with Keep America Beautiful Clean Community System guidelines. The first Orchids & Onions Awards were presented.


The Knoxville Beautification Board newsletter was first published. Volume 1, Number 1, featured stories on improving the appearance of the business community before the '82 World's Fair, results of a citizen survey on sign control, and notes on UT Vols Coach Johnny Majors recorded litter cleanup ads (called "Johnny's Clean Team"). An Adopt-A-Tree program was also established.


South Central Bell’s Community Relations Team made a Clean Team challenge to more than 100 other businesses to look at their own waste handling practices, train employees to help solve the litter problem and use internal communications to encourage litter reduction. A PSA campaign was planned to encourage paint-up, clean-up, fix-up, removal of old signs, planting and landscaping. All City and County schools, grades K-6, had the KAB Waste in Place curriculum. The business membership campaign raised $26,500.


GKBB sponsored a Charette, October 18 and 19, called "Knox 2000: A Vision of the Future". The purpose was to stimulate awareness of long-range plans and to invite community groups to discuss what our county-wide community should look like and be like in the year 2000. Eighty-eight of Knoxville’s leading citizens defined the possible futures for downtown, housing, land use/transportation, neighborhoods, parks and recreation, rivers, creekways and signs. The Charette provided direction for GKBB’s activities for several years.


The Adopt-A-Spot Program was presented to the Keep America Beautiful coordinator’s training institute in Memphis in July. During its first year, 147 spots had been adopted and 1,500 people participated. At each Clean Community System presentation the Adopt-A-Spot was the most popular way for interested citizens to get involved. A few Adopt-A-Spot signs remain around the community today.


GKBB programs touched 24,000 students, 960 teachers and 60 principals with Waste In Place educational activities, School Pride projects and litter clean up.


The Trash Bash was first held at World’s Fair Park. This festival atmosphere event attracted thousands to hear music, eat, and learn about trash and littering. The Trash Bash is credited with being the first major community event at World's Fair Park after the end of the 1982 World's Fair.


Knoxville's first GLAD Bag-A-Thon was sponsored by GKBB. This national event with Keep America Beautiful continues today as the Great American Cleanup™.


Orchid Winners for the 9th annual beautification awards included: the Althen Building, Blair House Antiques, East Tennessee Regional Eye Center, Homberg Village Shopping Center, Knoxville Orthopedic Center, Southern Foundry Supply, Waterford Village and Western Plaza Shopping Center.


After a visit and presentation by Judge Larry Potter from Memphis, Knoxville established its first Environmental Court with Judge John R. Rosson at the bench. Designed to rid the city of abandoned vehicles, illegal dumps, dirty lots and other health and safety violations, Judge Rosson could fine violators $50 a day and impose a 30 day jail sentence. This partnership with the City’s Department of Community Development was undertaken to "enhance community pride, livability and beautification through unity, fellowship and citizens working together to build better communities". Specific areas targeted included Westview, Bethel Avenue Cemetery, Parkridge, New Hope, Lonsdale, Oakwood/Lincoln Park and others. Juvenile offenders were involved in the cleanup.


The fifth year of the large-scale event, the annual Trash Bash, at World’s Fair Park was planned around Keep America Beautiful and featured information booths from Metro Knox Solid Waste Authority, games with "trashy" themes for children and a mock litter court. More than 20,000 people attended. The school program, "Mountains of Trash," was turned into "Mountains of Pride" with this GKBB program to encourage recycling. Sequoyah School won a day in the mountains by bringing in 2,200 pounds of aluminum.


Environmental Education: After taking a long, hard look at our mission, the Beautification Board decided to "intensify" its environmental work. An environmental expo during Keep America Beautiful Week with concurrent topics on a variety of topics was planned. The kickoff for the Living Tribute Program was planned for November 1. Trees were planted for the late Milton Roberts and 6 other Fountain City-ans. The 5th annual GLAD Bag-A-Thon trash clean-up goal was 60 tons of litter.


The Greater Knoxville Beautification Board moved its offices from the City County Building to 402 11th Street, in the Victorian Houses at World's Fair Park. GKBB would operate from this location until August 2004.


Shelba Murphy, marketing director of the Knoxville News-Sentinel Company was elected board president. Shelba was instrumental in developing the partnership between GKBB and the News-Sentinel to present the Environmental Achievement Awards each year.


The Environmental Achievement Awards of the Knoxville News Sentinel, managed by GKBB were presented for the first time. "Be Pretty Proud," the official community cable program of the Beautification Board hosted by Mary Lou Horner, was first broadcast in June of this year.


The Litter Hotline, later dubbed "I Spy on Litter," kicked off in January.


The "Read, Then Recycle" News Sentinel program encouraged citizens to recycle their newspapers in specially marked bins. Bins located at Rural Metro stations benefited GKBB. More than $1,500 was raised the first year. The Knox County Commission established the Knox County General Sessions Court Division 5, the "Environmental Court," with Tony Stansberry as the County’s first (and current) environmental judge.


The delightful Talking Tree mascot began providing basic environmental education to school-aged children. Over the years, thousands of children have benefited from the Talking Tree programs.


Keep Knoxville Beautiful becomes the new name of The Greater Knoxville Beautification Board. This was part of a nation-wide initiative involving all Keep America Beautiful affiliates.


At a planning retreat in January board members adopt a new mission statement: "to promote a cleaner, greener, more beautiful community". A celebrity roast of long-time supporter Mary Lou Horner takes place in April. A record setting 186,000 pounds of trash was cleaned up during the GLAD Bag-A-Thon. Keep Knoxville Beautiful celebrated its 20th anniversary with cake and dancing to honor board volunteers and long-time supporters at a Calhoun’s on-the-River party. Keep Knoxville Beautiful won the Distinguished Service Citation from Keep America Beautiful, its first award since its founding 20 years prior.


Keep Knoxville Beautiful won a national award from the organizers of the GLAD Bag-A-Thon for its 1998 record-setting campaign. Keep Knoxville Beautiful launched its website, one of the first interactive KAB affiliate websites in the nation, with online forms to report illegal littering and report cleanup results. KKB received a 1999 First Place Award for "Innovative Media Campaign" from Keep America Beautiful for "setting an example for the nation."


KKB was selected by the National Soft Drink Association to receive their First Place Award in the non-profit category for Outstanding Efforts in Furthering Comprehensive Litter Prevention. KKB unveiled a 64 foot-wide mural of Knoxville’s Music History in the historic Old City. Two 30 second television ads called "TRASHBUSTERS" were donated by Atmosphere Pictures. The ads were shot on film with live actors and featured the Trashbusters, a group of kids who confronted litter bugs "in the act." KKB received a Rogers Award from Keep America Beautiful at its 2000 Annual Meeting for the Trashbusters Television PSA Campaign.


KKB, in partnership with Knox County Solid Waste conducted the most successful Christmas tree recycling program in our community with more than 1,900 trees recycled at four locations. KKB’s Executive Director Tom Salter was selected as Keep Tennessee Beautiful's Coordinator of the Year for the year 2000. KKB received a first place award from Keep Tennessee Beautiful and TDOT for the Litter-Free Schools Program. KKB dedicated the Knoxville Historic Train Mural, its second major mural located in the Old City. Keep Knoxville Beautiful also won a national award from Keep America Beautiful for the best GAIN clothing drive promotion in the nation during the 2001 Great American Cleanup™.


The Liberty Gardens Campaign was a huge success with more than 50 local patriotic-theme gardens created at businesses and homes. KAB's national website featured a garden created by Knoxville's Rohm & Haas plant. Keep Knoxville Beautiful initiated a Youth Advisory Board with 2 representatives from each local high school to help fulfill our mission through greater involvement with teenagers. YAB members set their own priorities, chose their own projects and developed their own goals. Keep America Beautiful recognized Keep Knoxville Beautiful with a first place award for its work with Knoxville area Target® stores during the 2002 Great American Cleanup™. This represented the 9th national or state award for Keep Knoxville Beautiful in 5 years.


KKB began the process of looking for new office space. Keep America Beautiful awarded KKB its second Distinguished Service Citation for overall programming and for the Youth Advisory Board's efforts to improve participation in the Knox County Schools mixed paper recycling program. KKB began a "blog" on its website to showcase profiles of individuals, groups and projects on a daily/weekly basis. KKB assisted Scott Frith and the Halls B&P to implement the Halls Tribute Trees project that planted 260 trees on the median of Maynardville Highway.


After conducting focus groups and surveys, KKB launched its anti-litter slogan "Don't Throw Down on K-TOWN". Radio ads, bumper stickers and billboards were used. Mayor Haslam and Mayor Ragsdale recorded promotion ads for the 2004 Great American Cleanup. KKB received the highest award possible from Keep America Beautiful, the First Place Affiliate Award for communities with a population of 200,000 or more. KKB also received two other first place and one second place awards. KKB moved to a new office at 100 S. Gay Street, Suite 103 in the historic Emporium building.

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