The Keep Columbus Beautiful Commission (KCBC) was created by ordinance in December 1986. In January 1988, KCBC was certified as an affiliate program of Keep America Beautiful, Inc. and has maintained this certification for twenty-seven consecutive years. The Commission was directed by a volunteer Board of citizens appointed by Columbus Council until July 1, 2015; currently the Council appointed volunteers serves as an Advisory Board. The KCBC mission is to engage and educate individuals and organizations to take greater responsibility for enhancing beautification, protecting the environment, and eliminating litter and blight. The Commission’s programs and projects are designed to support improved waste management techniques and enhanced community aesthetics.
Since its inception, the Commission has implemented a number of successful programs and projects related to improved waste management techniques which include: providing technical assistance in preparing the city’s 15-year waste management plan, providing assistance and resources in conducting the curbside recycling test, design of the public information campaign which introduced curbside recycling, and coordination of Christmas tree recycling and telephone book recycling events. In addition, the Commission annually sponsors numerous educational programs for schools, businesses and educators to promote recycling and good environmental stewardship.
The Commission has also been a leading influence in the area of community aesthetics with its first major beautification enhancement project “Adopt-A-Spot”, initiated in 1988 in partnership with the Columbus Bank and Trust Company. The Commission also promotes and coordinates the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Adopt-A-Highway Litter Prevention Program in Muscogee County and works with the Concerned Citizens of South Columbus (CCSC), Citizens Against Drugs (CAD), Columbus Police Department and Columbus Water Works to promote neighborhood litter prevention programs and sponsors the community-wide annual Help-the-Hooch River Cleanup (engaging over 9,000 volunteers annually since the inception in 1991).
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 Board Commissioner, which creates a stronger working relationship between the two entities. In 1997, the Commission assumed a key leadership role, working with the Mayor and the City Manager in planning and implementing the Community Improvement Program. The Commission also supports the city’s Urban Forestry and Beautification Division by assisting in the coordination of the required annual Arbor Day Celebration which enables Columbus to maintain its “Tree City USA” designation. It is important to note that Columbus was the first city in the State of Georgia to earn this designation. The Commission was also heavily involved in the successful implementation of America Heritage River Initiative, the 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 for the Olympic events. The Pitch-In-Program, launched in the spring of 1995, solicited and coordinated the efforts of hundreds of volunteers who worked to clean up and fix highly visible areas of our community. Other projects implemented during the same time frame were Pitch-In-Partners 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 petitioned Council to increase the fines 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, collaborated with 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 GDOT designated thirty-nine 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 the “I don’t recycle, you gotta be kidding” project. In 2009, with the support of the City Manager, the Commission started broadcasting the KCBC Earthnotes CCG-TV show.
In 2011, KCBC and Columbus Water Works co-sponsored the first community-wide “grease and over-the-counter/prescription drug” collection event. This event, now conducted twice a year, is designed to educate citizens on the proper disposal of grease and pharmaceuticals in order to divert them from our watersheds and collection systems.
In 2013 the first “I gave my soles to KCBC”, shoe recycling project diverted approximately 22,000 pairs of shoes from our landfill. In 2014, KCBC supported the Coke-a-Cola, Piggly Wiggly, and CCG Public Works “Recycle and Win” Campaign to heighten the awareness of recycling. Also, in 2014 the Commission and Aflac co-sponsored the first annual “Teacher, free supplies recycle day” to provide needed supplies for students and off-set out of pocket expenses for teachers.
Keep Columbus Georgia Beautiful was established as a Non-Profit 501c (3) organization in 2012 to enhance KCBC fundraising efforts to support on-going programs and projects for environmental advocacy, education and sustainability.
December 2014, Keep Columbus Beautiful relocated to the new Columbus Recycling and Sustainability Center at 8001 Pine Grove Way, Columbus, Georgia 31907. The phone number changed to (706) 225-4008.