Somerset-Pulaski County's spring clean-up event is returning in 2021 and will coincide with the world's largest environmental day of celebration.
The Somerset-Pulaski County Clean Sweep will be Thursday, April 22, which is also Earth Day and precedes the Somernites Cruise opening weekend. Local businesses, residents and students will rally to pick up litter along U.S. 27, downtown Somerset streets, the Ky. 914 bypass and roadways near industrial parks, joining what is Eastern KY PRIDE's largest event across 42 counties. More than 1,000 people participate annually.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic canceled last year's spring event, the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) partnered with Eastern KY PRIDE and six other local organizations to bring it back in the fall and make it a biannual event. The Clean Sweep will now be held every spring and fall, doubling efforts to beautify the community.
"We are intimately focused on initiatives that allow us to collaborate with other organizations to improve the quality of life in Somerset and Pulaski County," SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said. "One way we can make this a better place to live, work and play is to enhance Pulaski County's natural beauty by keeping it clean. We want to ensure we are doing all we can as a community to make great impressions on our visitors, teach our children and youth the importance of taking care of our environment and promote personal responsibility."
The fall event included a new component to encourage students to get involved in being good stewards of the environment. The Triple Bag Challenge was a week-long contest for all elementary through high school students living in Somerset and Pulaski County. Students who picked up three bags of trash from roadways in the community received a chance to win one of several prizes -- including an Xbox, gift cards, gas cards, and SomerSplash Waterpark passes. Participants were asked to post before and after photos of their cleanup efforts to Facebook and/or Instagram using #spctriplesweep.
SPEDA recently recognized the following winners of the Triple Bag Challenge, who were chosen at random:
• Savion Newell, Hopkins Elementary, $325 Walmart card for Xbox and $25 Shell gas card
• Channing Girdler, Hopkins Elementary, $100 Amazon card
• Preston McGown, Northern Middle School, SomerSplash Waterpark pass
• Carly Neal, Northern Middle School, SomerSplash Waterpark pass
• Brady Reynolds, Somerset High School, $25 Shell gas card
• Jacilyn Dick, Science Hill, $25 Shell gas card
• Macey Hudson, Pulaski County High School, $25 Shell gas card
• Dexter Banks, Northern Middle School, $25 Shell gas card
• Cole Reynolds, Somerset High School, $25 Shell gas card
• Kyrsten Baker, Science Hill, $25 Shell gas card
• Ezekiel Baker, Science Hill, $25 Shell gas card
• Charleston Girdler, Meece Middle School, $25 Shell gas card
• Benny Baker, Science Hill, $25 Shell gas card
• Sam Baker, Northern Middle School, $25 Shell gas card
• Gracie Russell, Northern Middle School, $25 Shell gas card
Somerset-Pulaski County Clean Sweep partners also include Lake Cumberland Tourism, the Somerset Tourist and Convention Commission, Waste Connections, the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, the Pulaski County Recycling Center, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Girdler expressed appreciation to all of these organizations, which came together to donate prizes, organize and promote the event. But he gave special thanks to Eastern KY PRIDE and the Pulaski County Recycling Center for their constant dedication to promoting environmental stewardship.
"Our community is better because of the outstanding work Eastern KY PRIDE and the recycling center do day in and day out," Girdler said.
Pulaski County Solid Waste Coordinator Danny Masten applauded the efforts of local students to make a difference.
"I am thankful to live in a community in which we have young people who are passionate about their environment," Masten said. "Also, I would like to thank the organizations that made this all possible. The cooperation and commitment it took to make this event happen this year was impressive. These events are highlights for our community and the environment we live in. Somerset and Pulaski County have a lot to be proud of. Congratulations to our winners, and we look forward to our next cleanup event this spring."
Eastern KY PRIDE Executive Director Tammie Nazario echoed Masten's praise of the volunteers, partners and students who participated in the event. Nazario said the big winner in this challenge is the community, "because we have these service-minded young people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and make a difference here."
"Let's follow their example by volunteering together during the next Pulaski County Clean Sweep," Nazario said. "I invite volunteers of all ages to make plans to join that community-wide event."
Details about registering for the April 22 Clean Sweep will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information, call (606) 677-6150 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.