Chamber program keeps city clean

T.J. Gerlach

Companies and volunteer groups around Joplin have been pitching in to help clean area streets and parks.

The city of Joplin, the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce and the Joplin parks and recreation department have joined together in efforts to keep Joplin litter free.

This is done with the use of the Adopt-a-park/Adopt-a-street program organized by the Chamber.

Kim Lester, the Chamber’s director of operations, said the city has had the program for a long time, but interest had died off. The city called the Chamber and asked if the enhancement committee could revive the program.

“What we did is that we just simply put the word out asking for sponsors from businesses or civic clubs asking if they would like to adopt an area,” Lester said.

To date, about 35 businesses and clubs have joined the efforts to keep Joplin clean.

Each group adopts a small area of town, about six-blocks, or a park to clean up. Groups go out once every four to six weeks to pick up trash in their area.

The Chamber partnered with Jerry Calvin, director of parks and recreation, who was wanting sponsors to help keep Joplin’s parks clean.

“We’re providing Jerry Calvin with the businesses,” Lester said.

The city puts up signs in each adopted area displaying the group sponsoring that area as well as “Beautify Joplin” and an iris, the city flower.

“I had a parks employee call and thank us for helping get this program going,” Lester said, after the employee had been to two or three parks to clean up and found several bags of trash already picked up.

Missouri Southern’s athletic department is one group which sponsors an area.

Once a month, one or two of Southern’s teams go out and pick up litter along Fourth Street between Range Line Road and Florida Avenue.

“[Students] should be proud of Missouri Southern,” Lester said. “The athletic department has sponsored an area, and they have been one of our most faithful cleanup crews.”

“[The teams] don’t mind it,” said Kevin Greim, director of marketing for the athletic department. “It’s not hard. And I don’t think it bothers the kids at all to get out there once a month.”

Southern became involved with adopt-a-street after Greim learned about the program from the Chamber.

“It’s a way to get the name of Southern athletics out into the community in a positive light,” he said.

“What we’re hoping, is that people in the community will see people out there picking up trash and it’ll help spur on other activity,” Lester said.

The Chamber wants citizens to take pride in Joplin and start caring about the city more. The Chamber’s community enhancement committee uses the slogan “Community pride starts inside” to help focus on this goal.

Participation in Adopt-a-park/Adopt-a-street is free to groups wanting to sponsor an area.

“There’s no cost to them at all except for their time,” Lester said. “I probably have a call every week from someone who [has heard about the program]. And we still have lots of areas in town that still have not been sponsored.”

Groups, businesses or individuals interested in joining either the Adopt-a-park or the Adopt-a-street program should contact the Chamber office at 624-4150.

The Chamber encourages any group that wishes to get involved to call.

“The Chamber is a great organization,” Greim said. “You do for the Chamber and the Chamber will do for you. Being part of the Chamber really provides dividends [for its members].”