There are many reasons why we all need to become involved in working to keep our community clean. A visually appealing community increases property values, attracts businesses/tourists and improves our image. Visitors often make immediate judgments based on their first impression of a community. An unkept community creates a feeling of being less than safe. As citizens, we deserve to live in a community that is clean, safe, healthy and attractive.
Our New River Gorge region has a new designation as the 63rd National Park. That’s a big deal. National Parks are bucket list items for people across the world. What an opportunity to showcase these beautiful West Virginia hills where we are blessed to live. But in contrast to our natural beauty, Beckley/Raleigh County has an issue with trash/litter, abandoned buildings and cars, cracked sidewalks and weeds, which put our community at a disadvantage.
The Chamber of Commerce established a Committee called Raleigh County Make It Shine (RCMIS). It is a cooperative effort among several organizations which include the Chamber of Commerce, City of Beckley, Raleigh County Commission, Beckley Area Foundation, the Carter Family Foundation, Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority, the Sheriff’s Department, the Division of Highways, the Department of Environmental Protection and Piney Creek Watershed Association. RCMIS’s mission is to increase awareness and motivate the public to help improve the pride, appearance and marketability of our community.
RCMIS and its partners have numerous accomplishments including litter campaigns which create awareness for the detrimental effects litter has on our environment. We are preparing for our newest campaign which will kick off next month. In addition, volunteers have conducted spring and fall cleanups which resulted in thousands of pounds of litter being removed from highways, public properties and creeks. RCMIS has received grant funding from Beckley Area Foundation and the Carter Family Foundation to help make improvements at the five major gateways that bring travelers into our city.
Beautifying and cleaning up the area is not just the responsibility of city/county government but all of us who live, work and play here. We need businesses, organizations, residents, schools and churches working together with government if we are to really make a difference in cleaning up our streets, neighborhoods and businesses.
It is our hope that our local businesses and land owners will work with us to improve their property’s appearance by painting and repairing buildings, removing old signage, not using their property as a storage yard for old equipment and junk, landscaping and mowing green spaces and of course picking up litter. Throughout our latest campaign, RCMIS will recognize you for your efforts in maintaining and beautifying your property.
Now is the time to show your community pride. We hope you will get out there and make a difference. RCMIS also invites volunteers to contact the Chamber at 304-252-7328 if you would like to become involved or if you have a project that we can support.
— Michelle Rotellini is president and CEO of the Beckley Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce.