Three Rivers cities have Earth Day on mind all year long

By Lisa Burnett , Emily Van Zandt Originally Published April 21, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 19, 2013 at 2:13 p.m.
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Still putting off that family recycling program or contemplating biking to work a few days each week? Monday is a good time to start.

Observed on April 22 each year, Earth Day is just around the corner, reminding us all to pay a little more attention to the planet we call home.

But for many cities in the Three Rivers area, a commitment to environmental protection is a year-round goal. Here’s what a few area cities have been doing to stay “green” in 2013.

Jacksonville

In addition to a flourishing farmers market that promotes the idea of eating local, Jacksonville is home to the state’s first drive-thru recycling center, Mayor Gary Fletcher said.

“We also just voted last week to retrofit all of the obsolete light fixtures at the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club to more energy-efficient bulbs in the next month,” Fletcher said.

In the future, Fletcher hopes to see the city’s recycling program go to a “single stream” method, which requires no sorting and often increases participation.

Cabot

Mayor Bill Cypert has a long list of items on the city’s “green agenda,” including new options for biking, walking and carpooling. The city has already implemented bike lanes on some neighborhood streets, with more planned for the future, and bike trails are being planned for Lonoke County Regional Park. The city is also adding to public walking trails, including lighting the trail around Community Pond Park and adding walking trails to the upcoming sports complex on Kerr Station Road, Cypert said.

“The city uses low-energy lights in all municipal buildings and low-energy external lights at City Hall,” Cypert said. “LED technology has been installed in all traffic signals.”

Searcy

When Mayor David Morris was asked what made Searcy more “green,” the city’s farmers market immediately came to mind.

“We’ve moved the farmers market up to the courthouse square for more visibility and more room,” Morris said. “New farmers have already signed up to bring their produce. They really needed the extra space.”

In addition to the market, Morris is proud that Searcy can still be called “a Tree City,” thanks to dedication from the Searcy Tree Board.

“They planted several trees last year at Pioneer Village on Arbor Day,” Morris said. “That should really help bring attention and focus to the fact that we are a Tree City.”

Batesville

“Everything we do around here is green,” Mayor Rick Elumbaugh said. “We’re continuing to be progressive on building our parks and were just funded for another section of Greenway Trail.”

Elumbaugh emphasized that the city is working to make Batesville a walkable community and that groups have already been turning out to walk on the trails regularly. He praised Lyon College for building several outdoor trails near the campus.

The city also recently broke ground on seven youth sports fields, which Elumbaugh hopes will encourage more Batesville residents to spend time outdoors.

Mountain View

City planning officer Charles Ramsey said a total of 35 new homes constructed in Mountain View in 2012 were certified as meeting certain energy-efficient standards set by EnergyStar through the state.

“We are seeing a big move to more green construction on our newer buildings,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey also noted that the Stone County recycling program is going strong in Mountain View, where the city helps with the cost of transporting the materials collected for recycling out of the city to the county recycling center.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or emily@syncweekly.com.

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