Leaders in Texarkana, USA are calling upon the citizens to help clean up our neighborhoods. This isn’t a new issue for Texarkana; however, with all of the imminent redevelopment in downtown, more and more are becoming aware of the egregious litter issue in our community. Several have been doing their own part for decades, but are now reaching out to younger generations to join in and take pride in our city.
Betty Williams is Ward 3 City Council member for Texarkana, Texas and has maintained her neighborhood and parts of downtown from trash and debris for many years. She wakes up every morning and takes her dogs, Teddy and Cosby, for their morning walk, bag in hand, and makes sure her property as well as the surrounding neighborhood is clean.
“I help clean up the community because, I want to be part of the change I want to see,” said Williams.
She has a history in her neighborhood, she has lived there since 1993 and she feels it is her duty to keep it looking its best.
“I can’t complain about litter and trash if I am not willing to do my part to keep it cleaned up,” she says. I’ve been retired for 17 years, so I’ve had time to watch and see and do,” she continued.
She has been a very active member in the community for quite some time, she taught at Highland Park from 1980 – 1995. She is a part of Main Street Texarkana and several other organizations around town including City Council and Women for the Arts.
“I am downtown a lot and I see the need for improvement,” said Williams.
She has plans of procuring a group of students from the Premier High School and training them to identify litter. She hopes to teach them the importance of keeping their city clean.
Williams feels the need to get the younger people involved. She hopes that they will keep up with the project and help keep their community clean, and she says they are always looking for groups to join in and help.
She also does a lot of work keeping the Amtrak station downtown looking nice for those coming and going. She weeds and waters the gardens and picks up trash as needed. She wants to stress the importance of keeping downtown looking nice, pro-business and getting more people to live in the area.
“You can’t complain about others if you’re not going to keep yours cleaned up,” said Williams.
Over the past few months, Dusty Henslee, the director of Public Works for Texarkana, Texas, has increased litter control efforts in their department.
“The main goal of the Litter and Debris crew is to concentrate on high traffic areas throughout the City. There are two people on this crew and their annual salary is $25,100 per person. One works Monday thru Friday and the other works Saturday thru Wednesday. We began this program back February and since then this crew has covered over 1,050 miles picking up litter and debris.”
Laney Harris, Texarkana, Arkansas Ward 2 Director, was reached out to regarding the concentration of litter on the Arkansas side of Downtown Texarkana, but declined to give any comment.
Other pillars of the community have amped up their attempts to clean up downtown though. Brandy Aaron and Beverly Rowe formed TXK DNA, a group whose aim is to “Clean up, Fix up & Paint up” with hopes that people will visit downtown.
“We want to see downtown thrive once again. We feel that any improvements downtown will help move the economic development meter toward higher numbers and that’s what counts.”
They hope to see people driving downtown and spending money on local businesses there.
“Dr. Beverly Rowe and I have been volunteering our time on the weekends to clean and weed the 100, 200, 300 and 400 blocks of E. Broad Street, but we are only 2 people and cannot do it all ourselves, she emphasized.
They are calling on the community to help. The ladies are hosting a downtown clean up on October 14-15, from 9:00 to noon, beginning at Broad and Olive and dispersing from there.
The focus will be on picking up litter, pulling weeds, sweeping sidewalks, and bagging leaves. Garbage bags will be provided, as will a limited amount of brooms and dust pans.
Downtown deserves some love, as does the entire community of Texarkana. Citizens must take pride in their neighborhoods if they want them to succeed.