Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fighting to keep Athens beautiful

by Allison Herman

For the past three years Ohio University Student Senate has organized Athens Beautification Day. It is a day when students and community volunteers take to the streets of Athens to clean up graffiti, remulch and plant flowers, and pick up trash. The Athens Beautification website says the goal of the event is "cleaning up the city while strengthening relationships among community groups."

However, as the fourth annual Beautification Day approaches, times are tough. The event runs on donations from businesses in the community, but the economic recession has everyone thinking twice about giving money away. Student Senate Member and Athens Beautification Day organizer Michaela Hahn-Lawson has asked Athens City Council for $1,000 because of a lack of monetary donations. The council agreed to award the money.

The Student Senate is in charge of buying T-shirts and supplies, but the $800 they've collected so far will not even cover the cost of the shirts. The $1,600 tab plus the lack of funding means the nearly 250 volunteers will not have a T-shirt to commemorate the day like they did before. In addition to the lack of funding, Lowe's has decided not to provide the 10% discount on mulch that they had given in past years.

Max Laird explains possible reasons for the lack of funding.

Money problems aside, Student Senate Director of Project Development Max Laird says the event will go on. He says it is important for students to give back to the community they often take for granted. "Students are half the population of Athens, and with that they are half of the wear and tear, sometimes even more of the wear and tear on the city itself," Laird says.

Max Laird says funding to clean Athens is worth the cost.

Student Senate member Emily Shuki says it would be unfortunate if Athens Beautification Day did not happen this year. Shuki expects the event will have to be scaled back, but not eliminated.

Emily Shuki says it would be unfortunate to get rid of Athens Beautification Day.

Laird says last year the Student Senate was able to fund about 20 projects with the help of about 250 volunteers. He says he expects about the same for this year. Athens Beautification Day is scheduled to be held on April 18, 2009. The rain date is scheduled for April 25.

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