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Communities should have welcoming entrances
Keep Liberty Beautiful
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Gateways to our county and towns welcome people in to our community. They are like the entryways to our homes. We want them to be inviting so that friends, neighbors and families will feel welcome when they visit.
Aren’t you just mortified when your yard is junky, or you haven’t had time to mow the grass, rake the pine straw or even pick up all the stuff that magically accumulates under a carport?  I am. It is the same when people visit the house and the porch isn’t swept and the house is full of stuff that I haven’t had time to clear away.  
I think most of us want visitors to see our best side — the one where our yards and homes are neat, clean and well-maintained. It is the same for our entryways to our communities, neighborhoods and streets. If these areas look messy, overgrown and littered, it does not speak well of those who live there. Visitors are not going to be impressed.  
I know we all have heard that phrase “You are what you eat,” but the other reality for a community is “We are what we look like.” We could have the best location in the state and the nicest citizens in the world, but a lot of people will never know that because they could be put off by our community’s appearance.
This year, one of our priorities here is to make our gateways more inviting and our many neighborhood and business gateways more attractive, too. Some simple efforts by us can make our streets, highways, businesses, neighborhoods and homes look better.
• The first is to stop litter in its tracks. Do not litter. Pick up litter if you see it. Litter is like an infectious disease; if you leave it by the side of the road, it attracts other litter.
• Secure your load on your vehicle. If you are carrying garbage or other items, tie off the bags tightly and secure any bags, boxes or loose items so they do not end up on our roads.
• Do not use your vehicle or our roads as a trash can. We all know folks who toss their beer cans and fast-food wrappers in the back seats or truck beds. Unfortunately, there also are some who just toss this stuff right out on the roads so they do not have to clean their vehicles. From all of us residents, we say, “Thanks a lot!” How lazy can you get? Please use a trash can or litter bag like the rest of us.
• Get rid of any junked or unused cars in your yard. It is not a car lot. If you need help, there are businesses and nonprofit organizations that can use these vehicles for recycling or a good purpose.
• The same goes for old appliances, like washing machines, or old furniture, like sofas on the front porch. Get rid of the stuff! You will feel better, and it will be easier to keep your yard clean and bug/rodent free.
• Do not leave old tires piled up in the yard. And please do not dump old tires on our roads and in our woods. Once again, you are causing a mess, but you also are attracting mosquitoes and other creepy crawlies!
• Pick up litter in your yard and in the right-of-way in front of your property.
• Never dump yard waste, motor oil or anything else in the street or storm drains. You are harming our local waterways, which are quite beautiful when they are litter-free and healthy.
• Keep your lawn maintained and your landscaping trimmed.
• Make sure the exteriors of your house and other buildings are clean and in good repair. Sometimes, I just wince when I am riding down our roads and see perfectly nice homes and neighborhoods marred by properties that are not maintained.
• Take a look at your street and neighborhood entrance.  Does it need some help with a litter pick-up or some sprucing up with plantings or green spaces?
Taking care of our community is an important part of the social fiber that makes a community great. An attractive, clean community improves our quality of life. One more thought to consider: Do you think about others around you who may need a helping hand?  Do any of your neighbors have health issues or are down on their luck? Perhaps they could use a neighborly hand in sprucing up their property (with their permission, of course).  Do you have elderly or indigent neighbors who might appreciate a neighbor’s assistance? Reach out and be a good neighbor!
By working together, we all can create a community that we can take pride in having.

Upcoming Keep Liberty Beautiful events
 Through Feb. 15 —Phonebook recycling We will have collection boxes around the county for recycling phonebooks and large catalogs as well as drop-offs at local recycling centers in the newspaper bins. For more information, call 880-4888 or email
Feb. 16 — Recycle It! Fair for electronics and household hazardous-waste items and selected household goods. Call 880-4888 or email

Swida is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.

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