The Keep Columbus Beautiful Commission was created by ordinance in December 1986. It was certified as an affiliate program of Keep America Beautiful, Inc. in January 1988. The Commission is directed through a board of citizens that is appointed by Columbus Council. This board maintains a staff of two full-time employees. The Commission's programs and projects supports improved waste management techniques and enhanced community aesthetics. Our mission is to engage and educate individuals to take greater responsibility for enhancing beautification, protecting the environment, and eliminating litter and blight.
Programs and projects related to improved waste management techniques include: assistance in preparing the city's 15-year waste management plan, assistance in the curbside recycling test, design of the public information campaign to introduce curbside recycling, coordination of Christmas tree recycling for eighteen years, and coordination of telephone book recycling for fifteen years. Prior to the city's curbside program, the Commission sponsored numerous recycling programs to foster a "recycling" attitude in the community, published a recycling directory, and encouraged neighborhood programs. The Commission annually sponsors numerous educational programs for schools, businesses and educators to help educate and promote recycling and waste minimization.
The Commission has been a leading influence in the area of community aesthetics. The first major enhancement program was begun in 1988 in conjunction with CB&T. The Adopt-A-Spot program was begun on Victory Drive and what is now Veteran's Parkway. In 1991 the Commission partnered with other community organizations to form Columbus Gateways. John Flournoy, Chairperson of the Gateways Foundation, Inc. serves as an Ex-Officio Commissioner creating a stronger working relationship. All accounting records and much of the program's development activities are managed by Keep Columbus Beautiful. In 1999 the Gateways Foundation Inc., received 501 (c)(3) designation and became the fund raising organization for the Keep Columbus Beautiful Commission. The Commission also promotes and coordinates the Adopt-A-Highway Litter Prevention Program in Muscogee County. The Commission works with CCSC, and the Citizens Against Drugs (CAD) groups through the Columbus Police Department to promote litter prevention programs in neighborhoods. In 1997 the Commission assumed a key leadership position with the Mayor and City Manager in planning and implementing the Community Improvement Program. The annual Help-the-Hooch River Cleanup is another program that highlights litter prevention. The Commission also supports the city's urban forestry programs by assisting in the coordination of the required annual Arbor Day Celebration which enables Columbus to maintain its "Tree City USA" designation. Columbus was the first city in the State of Georgia to earn this designation. Annually the Commission plan and implement the "Learn about Forest" program to educate inter-city youth on the benefits of the forest and the environment. The Commission was heavily involved in the America Heritage River Initiative, proposed River Alliance organization, the Empowerment Zone, and the Comprehensive plan for Columbus and Uptown Columbus.
In 1995 and 1996 the Commission worked very closely with Columbus 96 to develop activities and programs to help prepare our city for the Olympic events. The Pitch-In-Program was launched in the spring of 1995, hundreds of volunteers worked to clean up and fix highly visible areas of our community. Elements of the program included the Pitch-In-Partner program, and the Let's Make a Grand Entrance contest. These two programs focused on the value of improved community aesthetics. In 1999 the Commission successfully partitioned Council to increase the fine for littering from $500 to $1,000 dollars. The Commission joined Trees Columbus, Inc. in 2002 to strengthen the Columbus Tree Ordinance, and in the same year, help the City to establish an Environmental Court. In 2006 the Commission coordinated the first City-wide Household Hazardous Waste and Electronic Recycling project. In 2007 the Commission spearheaded the I-185 Scenic Byway, whereby the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) designated 39 miles of I-185 as a Scenic Byway. Also, in 2007 the Commission enrolled in the State of Georgia "Clean Community Challenge", kicked off the statewide "Litter. It costs you." Campaign, and started the Earthnotes CCG-TV broadcast. In 2009 the Keep Columbus GA Commission, Inc was established as a Non-Profit Organization