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Beautifying Erie County

Cheyanne Crum, Features editor

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Nine members of the Erie County community have come together to help Mercyhurst alumna Brittany Prischak Keep Erie County Beautiful (KECB). Prischak is currently the sustainability officer for Erie County, as she used to be at Mercyhurst.

This advisory committee is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful (KAB), a nation-wide program centered on ending littering, improving recycling and beautifying communities, according to their website.

The members of the committee were selected from all over Erie County. The nine categories being represented are: neighborhoods, cities, townships, non-profits, schools, industry, colleges and universities and the county as a whole. At this time, they are still looking for a member to fill the state as a whole position.

“The nine-member committee helps to represent different sectors of the county, by that I mean interest groups, not necessarily certain areas of the county,” said Prischak. “So they help us know what is happening throughout the county with different organizations.”

Sarah Bennett, M.S., Biology lecturer, was selected to represent the universities and colleges in the county.

“At our first meeting in May, we will discuss our strategies. As a KAB affiliate, we want to accomplish their goals with litter, recycling and overall beautifying,” Bennett said.

The meeting is open to the public, but will be focused on strategic planning for the committee.

“Our priorities haven’t necessarily been set yet. That will happen during the first meeting. The focuses of any affiliate of KAB include: awareness and education or implementation of projects relating to recycling and waste, litter and illegal dumping and community beautification,” Prischak said.

Erie County is a trial run for one of the big programs that KAB would like to implement to lessen cigarette litter.

“KAB would like to have the city of Erie be the pilot city for a cigarette butt receptacle program. They’re going to be electronic and have little polls you can take when you put a butt into it, like ‘Who’s your favorite cartoon character?’” Bennett said.

To prepare for the upcoming events, each of the committee members attended a training with a member of KAB.

“This committee (purpose) is really to focus and get started on the goals that KAB has. Our overall goal is not only to clean up Erie, but to change the behavior so it eventually won’t be necessary,” Bennett said.

Another way that the committee prepared for KECB was through a litter audit. Bennett said that they split the county into five different watersheds to complete the survey of how much litter was in each area.

Since Bennett is the liaison for the Erie County colleges and universities, it is obviously a question of how involved Mercyhurst is going to become in the endeavors of KECB.

“I would like to get the Service Learning department involved and include the Day of Service that the freshmen have to do in this. Whether it is just helping identify projects that need done or becoming involved with projects,” Bennett said.

Along with the involvement of the college, Prischak said the committee hopes to increase schools’ recycling and recycling education, decrease the number of dump sites through clean-ups and enforcement and work with neighborhood groups to assist with vacant lot programs.

Each of the members of the committee has been selected to be the liaison of a division of the county and each of them are set for the job.

“The people on the committee are all very active in the community, the energy is just contagious. Having so many people willing to help makes it better as well,” said Bennett. “This is a really great time for Erie to get involved in this. There just seems to be more of a willingness to participate and change, which is the ultimate goal.”

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Beautifying Erie County