Keep El Dorado Beautiful is rounding out the year on a high note and the group hopes to take the momentum it has built for its cleanup efforts into the new year.
KEB members held their last regular meeting of 2023 Monday, finalized plans for the remainder of the year and looked ahead to 2024.
The group will appear with Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission mascot Otto the Otter in the El Dorado Christmas Parade, which is set for Dec. 7.
KEB members Carla Grange and Rod Reynolds are coordinating the effort, said Janis Van Hook, president of KEB.
The group plans to hand out 100 T-shirts featuring Otto to spectators along the parade route.
KEB also sewed up details for its Christmas party, which is set for Dec. 18.
Members have invited city officials as a thank-you for supporting KEB activities this year, including working with KEB to coordinate community cleanups in each of the city's four wards.
The last ward cleanup of the year was held Nov. 4 in Ward 4, which is represented by El Dorado City Council members Buddy McAdams and Dianne Hammond, who is also a member of KEB.
A community cleanup that was held last month in Ward 2 drew the most participants with nearly 100 volunteers.
Van Hook said the holiday party is also an acknowledgement of the "hard work" KEB members put in this year.
She also thanked local residents who have bought into KEB's mission of engaging the community to build a sustainable cleanup campaign for El Dorado.
"We have seen some great improvements around the city this year and we had so many people come on board with KEB," Van Hook said.
From individuals who regularly pick up litter while going about their day to community cleanups and those who have adopted city streets, Van Hook said multiple residents are working together to keep El Dorado litter-free.
"We have seen some great improvements in many areas. In some areas, people do the best they can with what they have to deal with, particularly the ones who live near (fast-food restaurants)," Van Hook said.
"You tend to see more curbside trash in those areas because people have not learned to not throw trash out of their window," Van Hook continued. "It's not the people who live there. It's often people driving through there throwing fast food wrappers and trash out the window."
As of Tuesday, Van Hook said nearly 70 participants have joined KEB's Adopt-A-Street program. Streets that have been adopted around the city are denoted by signage and KEB has doled out 65 signs.
"We'd like to thank everybody who is making an effort to try and make the city a cleaner place," Van Hook said. "We really have been pleased with our city. We really have."
The ward cleanups came with a cash incentive, in which 10 volunteer teams with at last 10 members are each awarded $300 cash for their participation.
This year, KEB prioritized youth groups -- including athletic teams, church groups and youth development and service groups -- to assist with expenses that are associated with membership in such groups and to engage youth in KEB's mission.
The cash incentives are made possible by a donation from Clean Harbors, whose general manager, Dan Roblee, is a member of KEB.
KEB introduced a new component of the cash-incentive program this year: pop-up cleanups.
Groups who were not able to participate in the ward cleanups had the option of reaching out to KEB to schedule a pop-up event.
Pop-up teams must also include 10 or more members who complete the work in order to be eligible for the cash incentive.
Van Hook said between eight and 10 groups took advantage of the pop-ups this year, noting that local Pee Wee football and cheerleading teams held the final pop-up cleanup on Nov. 18.
"They weren't able to participate in the Ward 4 cleanup because they had a championship game that day, so we were able to clear the books on them last weekend," Van Hook said.
For its 2024 outlook, KEB is planning to introduce a couple of new programs that within its framework of litter, recycling and beautification.
Members are remaining tight-lipped about the programs for now, saying that more details may be released during their first regular meeting of the year in January.
For more information about KEB, call Van Hook at 870-918-2706 or Hammond at 870-866-0111.