Our New Team Member

Hey!

     My name is Madeline Adams and I am the new CAC AmeriCorps worker here at Keep Blount Beautiful. It has been an exciting first week getting into the groove of things. Mallory and Jared have been a huge help getting me settled in and ready to tackle any project that might come my way.

     So far, I have been hard at work getting volunteers to sign up for our Big Orange Trash Bash (If you’d like to participate let me knowJ). I have also participated in a litter pick up with Jared and Mallory collecting a total of six bags of trash in less than half of a mile. That’s a lot of litter! We have also started the beginning stages of restoring one of our trailers. We hope to have the trailer newly painted with a fresh Keep Blount Beautiful sign on it for the Big Orange Trash Bash, so if you want to see our new, pretty trailer come out and participate!

      Aside from working on a few projects and relentlessly using this post to get you guys to volunteer, I have been learning a lot about the programs we offer and resources available in Blount County. I was so shocked to find that Spectra is the only recycling company in the county and that as of right now there is nowhere to recycle glass. Jared has also taught me a lot from the Landfill tour he gave me and from giving me a tour of our awesome EcoCenter.

     I cannot wait to use the many resources we have for educating, beautifying and sustaining Blount County. I am looking forward to learning more about the region and working side by side with KBB to make it a beautiful place to live.  The next ten months with Keep Blount Beautiful will be a new and stretching experience for me but also a fun way to connect with new people and gain new skills. 

How to Deal with a Dump?

by Mallory Leonard

Anna Marie Montrony is the citizen who reported the illegal dump at Green Acres last week. She has lived in Blount County for two years, having moved here from Long Island. She is a hairdresser and cosmetologist by trade and currently works for U-haul. Anna Marie lives in one of the apartment complexes behind the flea market, and she’s been trying to get it taken care of since she moved in.

She has tried to engage various governmental departments but received no response. “I felt like nobody was doing anything about it. People were like ‘Yeah it bothers us but there’s not much we can do about it.’” Then last week she decided to call the news and Keep Blount Beautiful, both of whom came out to the dump almost immediately.

“I got to a point where I said ‘Something has to be done.’ It’s becoming a nuisance. There are flies and mosquitoes and possums and raccoons and everything. It just keeps getting larger and larger. The beds, the couches. People getting rid of metal and tires and everything they want to get rid of.”

Anna Marie witnesses people dumping every single day, mostly at night. “I care about my community. I care about the air quality. This is a beautiful area but it’s getting run down.”

When the wind blows across the dump, the stench goes right into Anna Marie’s home. She’s fed up with the dump, and so is Scott Hammer, the manager of the flea market.

He’s been dealing with the problem for years. He’s set up cameras to capture license plates, but dumpers often see them and knock them down. When he has caught people and informed the police, he’s been told that law enforcement can only make them leave the property.

On some occasions, dumpers have even gotten violent with Scott. “People have said to me, ‘I can do whatever I want,’ and when I say, ‘No, you can’t; this is private property,’ they lash out and threaten me.”

He knows that part of the garbage is coming from the many apartments behind Green Acres. Residents dump their household trash here, leaving evidence of their identity. “I’ve found bills with people’s names on them, and I’ve taken the bags back to them.”

KBB is trying to help fix this problem. Like most of the challenges we face, this dump may appear to be an isolated problem, but it’s a symptom of a cultural and educational issue.


Illegal Dump Site at Green Acres Flea Market

by Mallory Leonard

This morning KBB received a call from a concerned Louisville resident regarding dumping at Green Acres Flea Market. Sure enough, we went out there to investigate and a section of the property is being used as an illegal dump site. 

When we arrived on the scene, the caller, Anna Montroney, was there with Becca Habegger from WBIR. We gave a short interview about our work and the problem of irresponsible waste disposal in Blount County.

This is an example of why we do what we do at KBB. 

KBB informed the Blount County Offices of Environmental and Codes of this illegal dump by submitting a Citizen Complaint form (which can be found here). We intend to follow up in the coming weeks.

 

UPDATE: Conditions have improved on site. The rubbish has been cleared, and the manager is looking to re-purpose this space to prevent future dumping. A reporting system is now in place. KBB will serve as the uninterested third party and liaise between the property manager and the Sheriff's department.

These Kids Love to Pick Up Litter!

By Mallory Leonard

This morning, a group of young people from Maryville Vineyard is cleaning up Cusick Street! These wonderful volunteers belong to KidServe, a summer small-group in its second year. All summer long, they have been serving the local veteran, retired, and homeless communities in the area. All of their projects are described on their website

Their parents shared with us that these children really enjoy this volunteer day, the day they get to pick up litter. Those litter pickers certainly are empowering.

Keep Blount Beautiful is grateful for their service and proud to have KidServe among our volunteers. Thanks Maryville Vineyard KidServe!

Caring for Home

by Mallory Leonard

Blount County isn’t perfect, but luckily it’s home to lots of good people who want to make their hometown better and are willing to work to make that happen. Like Rosalind Robinson.

A few years ago, Rosalind spearheaded a project to clean up and beautify a section of Hall Road, between Edison and Howe. Before, this area was a huge mess, covered in massive amounts of litter and overgrown with weeds. After looking at such a depressing sight day after day, Rosalind decided to do something about it.

At first, she started cleaning the place up herself, with her own money and tools. Then, with the help of Charlene DeSha at Keep Blount Beautiful, Rosalind applied for and was awarded a Beautification Grant from Lowe’s.

Now this project could become a community effort. Although Rosalind may have started it all, she does not see this beautification project as “hers;” it has always been about the community.

The location has special significance for a number of reasons. For one, Rosalind remembers how many of the dads, including her own, would walk home every evening from Alcoa, and before splitting off to their individual homes, they would sit on the rocks and socialize together and unwind after a hard day’s work. Also, the site is adjacent to the building that, prior to integration, was the school designated for black students in the area. Rosalind remembers attending through the 9th grade and transferring to Alcoa High School for her last three years.

In addition to working with KBB, Rosalind assembled a team of workers and teamed up with the City of Alcoa to make this plot of land a sight worth seeing.

Rosalind was acutely aware of how many people drive down Hall Road every day, whether on the way to Knoxville or the mountains. So she and others have worked hard over the last few years to clean up and plant flowers and trees that will say something about this community to those passing through, but more importantly to those who live here.

To Rosalind, this effort is all about “caring for home.” She cares deeply about her home, the place and the people, and she knows she couldn’t have accomplished this much without the support of other people who care about home. Still, she knows they’ve got a ways to go yet...


Better Than the Creek

by Mallory Leonard

Blount County is a special place for many reasons, especially some that residents rarely think about. Take, for example, the landfill.

Sam Holloway, the Solid Waste Manager, oversees the operation of the Alcoa/Maryville/Blount County Sanitary Landfill, and he will proudly share with anyone who wants to know the services his team of 17 employees provides to this community.

This is one of the very few remaining landfills to be publicly owned, and it is owned jointly by the City of Alcoa, the City of Maryville, and Blount County governments. The three agreed long ago that the City of Alcoa would operate the landfill, so Sam and everyone who works there are employees of Alcoa.

The landfill is a self-sufficient operation; it does not receive funding from any taxes. Instead, the landfill functions solely on the tipping fees, which are currently $10.50 for up to 500 lbs and $42 per ton. The landfill receives around 350 tons of solid waste each day, 200 tons of municipal waste and 150 tons of construction/demolition. Yearly that income adds up to approximately $4 million, which effectively covers their operations, repairs, necessary purchases, and their many expensive fees and permits. They charge only the amount required to safely dispose of the solid waste brought in, so the system is truly “pay as you dump.”

Speaking of, let’s set the record straight. Many Blount County residents refer to this place as “the dump,” which is a grievous misrepresentation. A dump refers to a site where people simply toss their garbage. At a dump there is nothing to prevent the chemicals from all that trash from contaminating the groundwater.

Sam’s operation is a safe and strictly-regulated site for waste disposal. Leachate, or “trash tea” as Sam calls it, is properly collected, regularly tested, and sent to the water treatment plant. Methane is also collected onsite and processed to generate electricity. The A/M/BC Landfill is one of the smallest in the country to house an operation that can convert the gasses emitted by decomposing garbage into renewable energy.

At 260 acres, this landfill is quite a small one. In truth there are two landfills on the site: one for construction/demolition waste and one for municipal waste. Municipal waste is basically your household garbage, so those cells are the ones creating leachate (rainwater that percolates through the trash) and methane.

Sam works very hard to keep his landfill in good shape, and he thinks the residents of Blount County are very fortunate to have this service. He worked in solid waste management in two other Tennessee counties, Hamilton and Monroe, before taking the Manager job here, and he feels confident that Blount County’s option is superior. At the same time, he is fully aware of the problems with landfills, like how much waste we’re creating and how many trees and habitats are sacrificed because of it. But, he says, “as bad as landfills are, it’s better than the creek.”

The landfill also offers some recycling options, including cardboard, newspaper, plastic types 1 and 2, electronics, used oil, tires, scrap metal, and lead acid batteries. Residents do not have to pay the tipping fee for recycling.

Blount County’s landfill was opened in 1973 and has a life expectancy of approximately 50 more years. Even after it is full and completely capped, the site will have to be monitored for 30 years. The land will continue to settle indefinitely, so the space can never be used for buildings. Instead, the landfill may be converted into a park, and it would be the perfect place for one. After all, other than Foothills Parkway, the landfill boasts the highest point in Blount County with gorgeous panoramic views of the Smokies. The Blount County Model Aviators are already enjoying using a capped cell to fly their planes, and the kids on field trips enjoy having them there too.

The landfill is part of everyone’s life in Blount County, because everyone’s trash ends up there. For those who want to know what happens to their waste when it leaves their bins, the landfill offers free tours. To schedule one, call Sam Holloway at 995-2998 or Keep Blount Beautiful at 681-4809.