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Keep Roswell Beautiful holds first meeting

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Juanita Jennings, the city of Roswell’s public affairs director, stands at the head of the table and listens to a question from a resident during the Keep Roswell Beautiful meeting on Tuesday afternoon. (Alison Penn Photo)

Recycling and beautification education were hot topics at the first Keep Roswell Beautiful meeting.

Around 20 people, a mix of city of Roswell employees and residents, attended the meeting on Tuesday afternoon to brainstorm potential projects for about one hour. Juanita Jennings, the city’s public affairs director, is acting as the city liaison for the committee and organized the meeting.

Jennings said the intention of the group is to promote education to keep the city beautiful, and the group will reconvene next month to select the top three projects. Jennings also introduced Meredith Hildreth, Planning and Zoning administrator, as the co-chair and other members of the committee representing code enforcement and sanitation departments, the library, the art museum and the zoo.

All city water bills had a flier included with an infographic pertaining to how to keep an alley clean. Jennings said this is part of an educational campaign to reach citizens. Jennings also drew attention to the upcoming ‘March Out the Trash’ event allowing citizens to utilize the landfill for free, and the Clean and Safe Program that addressed dilapidated buildings and empty lots around the city. Jennings also showed how to access the city’s FixIt Form, a way to report problems directly to the city, on the website (roswell-nm.gov) and encouraged the residents to call to report sightings of trash or areas that need help around the city.

Jennings said Keep Roswell Beautiful formally existed “a long time ago,” had taken a break and regrouped within the last year. She said the city is working on becoming affiliated again with Keep American Beautiful and Mayor Dennis Kintigh wrote a letter on behalf of this endeavor. She said the meeting on Tuesday would allow Keep Roswell Beautiful to begin again and work “to collectively keep Roswell beautiful.”

A few of the citizens gave input on issues they saw around the city. Vanessa Casey, the administrative assistant for the solid waste, recycling and landfill department, fielded the questions and provided information regarding the four new grappler trucks servicing the city, for tree limbs and other trash too large for the containers in the alleys.

After introductions, the attendees divided into three groups and discussed projects for the program. One common thread between the groups was promoting recycling and education on how to do it properly. Some of the groups wanted to have recycling education in the schools and local civic groups and promote workplace recycling at large entities with many employees such as the city, Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and others.

Josh Hartwell, from Shred Boss Paper & Product Destruction, presented group three’s suggestion to have recycling bins at events, fix the historic district signs, create an app with a map of trash “hot spots” with a reporting system and also discussed potential curbside trash and recycling collection instead of using the alleys.

The second group suggested the city should consider cutting down plastic bag usage and Styrofoam following the lead of larger New Mexico cities such as Albuquerque and Santa Fe. On behalf of group two, City Councilor Judy Stubbs presented the consideration of a name change for Keep Roswell Beautiful.

Partnering with larger organizations such as federal and state recycling and beautification programs, such as Keep American Beautiful and Toss No Mas, was a suggestion from group two and the city shared their current collaborations.

Casey said the city is currently a member of the NM Recycling Coalition. In addition, Jennings also said the city is partnered with the state’s Toss No Mas. Allison Gray, the city’s tourism and events manager, said she is on the New Mexico Clean and Beautiful Advisory Committee.

Keep Chaves County Beautiful also had two representatives at the meeting. Sean Davis introduced himself as the current president of Keep Chaves County Beautiful and said he was present to see how the two organizations could “co-mingle.” Davis said he was the last president of Keep Roswell Beautiful and was president when the group had national affiliate status in 2016. Rita Kane Doerhoffer also represented Keep Chaves County Beautiful.

Representing group three, Rita Kane-Doerhoefer said a part of the education would be providing a purpose for people to recycle. Group three’s other ideas were using recycled materials for educational or art projects at the Spring River Park and Zoo and the Roswell Museum and Art Center, placing all recycling bins and trashcans strategically to avoid theft and they also focused on educating students as well as the elderly.

“We decided that we need to change behaviors through education,” Kane-Doerhoefer said. “How we do that is we put on programs — we get on Facebook. People want more information — there are people that they can talk to. Give the community a purpose — a reason why you want to pick up trash, a reason why you want to recycle, a reason why you want to take your tree limbs out to the dump and they will grind them for you. They have to have a reason. A lot of people say, ‘Why should I do this?’ We have to tell them why they need to do this …”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.