Keep Texas Beautiful recognizes Utopia with Gold Star

Organization honors 85 Texas communities

Keep Texas Beautiful, a statewide grassroots environmental and community improvement non-profit organization, recently named Utopia a Gold Star Affiliate, a designation granted to 85 of nearly 300 affiliates.

Gold Star recognition is the highest status membership recognition any community affiliate can achieve.

To remain in good standing with Keep Texas Beautiful, community affiliates must submit a report, pay dues, attend training and participate in a Keep Texas Beautiful-endorsed activity annually. In 2004, the organization introduced the concept of Gold Star recognition to reward those communities who sought to go above and beyond the established requirements.

To achieve this status, affiliates must share information on their mission and goals, answer questions about their economic development and diversity and inclusion practices, or participate in the Keep Texas Beautiful Awards or Governor’s Community Achievement Awards programs, and provide a letter of support from their community. Keep Texas Beautiful formally recognized Gold Star communities during its 52nd-annual conference held June 18-20 in Rockwall.

“We are proud to honor our most active affiliates who have such a large impact on their communities,” says Suzanne Kho, executive director of Keep Texas Beautiful. “Our Gold Star Affiliates are education and engaging the community, actively recruiting and managing volunteers, hosting beautification events throughout their community and so much more. They deserve this great honor.”

In 2018 alone, Keep Texas Beautiful affiliates and their local volunteers contributed 198,304 hours to collect more than 4.2 million pounds of waste and recyclables, including 167,689 pounds of electronics and 6,293 pounds of tires.

Utopia successfully implemented programs to clean up litter, reduce and recycle water, educate local citizens and beautify and enhance the local community.

Keep Utopia Beautiful works primarily in the areas of solid waste management, beautification, litter prevention and cleanups, environmental education, and dark skies/stars over Utopia.

Its flagship program, Utopia Recycles, is primarily run by volunteers. During 2018, 40-plus volunteers gave 1,530 hours, served 4,039 customers, and shipped 43.75 tons of recyclable commodities.

In the area of beautification, Keep Utopia Beautiful maintained fix landscape installations on TxDOT right-of-way and 63 maple trees along 4 miles of Farm to Market Road 187.

During the Great Utopia Cleanup held each April in conjunction with the Great American Cleanup, 55 volunteers worked 146 hours to clean up and remove 34,320 pounds of litter, debris, bulky waste and trash from the community. Also, during the year, volunteers cleaned 67.4 miles of highway.

“Our volunteers are the key to the success of Keep Utopia Beautiful,” said Keep Utopia Beautiful chairman John Heideman. “We had 2,050 hours of donated labor in 2018 valued at $50,512, and Keep Utopia Beautiful’s cost benefit ration is $18.57 – for every $1 spent, $18.57 of value is returned to the community. Our citizens and volunteers truly deserve this recognition, and Keep Utopia Beautiful is proud to be recognized by Keep Texas Beautiful for our efforts.”

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