The Rome-Floyd County Litter & Blight Task Force Has a Vision and a Mission
By Kristi Kent
The Rome-Floyd County Litter and Blight Task Force has been meeting bi-weekly for the last two months and is taking steps to tackle many challenges. The vision of the Litter & Blight Task Force is a safe, clean community for all residents and visitors. The mission is to eliminate litter and blight by identifying and leveraging partnerships while advocating for effective community policies, education and outreach.
The group has already met with key individuals in city and county public works, building inspection, code enforcement and the court system to understand their daily challenges and to begin identifying long-term solutions for eliminating litter and blight.
Through this process, the task force has already identified stakeholders and partners that can help explore key-findings and identify next steps. One of the many challenges the task force would like to address concerns reviewing the code enforcement process. The task force wants to examine ways to streamline code enforcement so that efforts are not duplicated and the public is aware of who to contact for enforcement while providing code enforcement the support they need so they can become more proactive instead of reactive.
The task force recognizes that education and outreach are essential for effective community involvement and would like to identify a school curriculum that mirrors the success of the Fire Safety and Prevention curriculum currently in schools. Additionally, the city and county have a valuable education and outreach asset through the E.C.O. Center and would like to understand resources needed to better expand their student education efforts to include litter and recycling education.
To address blight, the task force wants to create programs that support neighborhood building. Blight is a problem that does not happen overnight; but instead develops over time. It happens when citizens begin to lose confidence in their property and decide not to invest in their properties; which leads to lower market demand and decrease demand for a community. A sub-committee in the task force formed last week to research grant opportunities. Additionally, the group will reach out to cities who have already been successful with similar programs to draw upon for best practices.
Building enthusiasm for the task force's vision of a safe, clean community for all residents and visitors starts with small changes and community involvement. The task force encourages all students Grades K-12 to participate in a poster art contest. The students whose artwork is selected will receive a $75 gift card and their art will be utilized in the official Keep Rome-Floyd Beautiful 2020 Litter-Free/Blight-Free Campaign. Students will be recognized and awarded during a poster art show/unveiling party to be held in January 2020. The teacher of the student whose art is selected will also receive a $75 gift card. Entries must be submitted by December 6, 2019. Entry forms and contest details are online at KeepRomeFloydBeautiful.org.
The creation of the Litter and Blight Task Force was spearheaded by County Commissioners Allison Watters and Wright Bagby Jr. who both serve on the task force. The City of Cave Spring Mayor-Elect Rob Ware and City of Rome Mayor Pro Tem Randy Quick also serve on the committee. The citizen led task force is chaired by David Mathis. Task force members include: Ralph Davis, Emma Wells, Tim Burkhalter, Brooke Brinson, Harry Brock, Lucy Burnes, Stephanie Dean, Ben Simmons, Mai Lee Payne, Amy Dawkins and Kristi Kent.