Keep the Midlands Beautiful:
6th Annual Gala for a Greener Midlands another success!
Keep the Midlands Beautiful hosted a Gala for a Greener Midlands on December 1st, 2017. During the evening festivities the Midlands Green Awards were presented. The event was held at Saluda Shoals Park, River Center. Keep the Midlands Beautiful is thankful to all those who sponsored, donated and attended the event. All funds raised will go towards beautification in the Midlands.
The Midlands Green Award winners were nominated by citizens in the Midlands that believe our awardees work hard to live into the mission of Keep the Midlands Beautiful and believe they should be awarded for their exceptional work in making the Midlands a cleaner, greener, more beautiful community. Our winners were selected by the Keep the Midlands Beautiful Board of Directors, Executive Committee.
The Green Outstanding Educator Award was given to Chanda Cooper; Ms. Cooper began her involvement with Sonoco Recycling and KMB as a college student mentoring a compost project with South Carolina Green Steps Schools Initiative. Ms. Cooper is exceptional in her ability to learn and then relay that information on to her students, teachers, farmers, natural resource professionals and general public.
The Green Event Award was given to Drive Electric Columbia; as the local edition of National Drive Electric Week, this event is part car show, part science fair and part tailgate party. Each year the event has grown in size and their focus is to show all the positive points of reducing your carbon footprint by “Driving Electric”. The event is held in September.
The Green Non-Profit Award was given to the West Columbia Beautification Foundation; The West Columbia Beautification Foundation is committed to redefining West Columbia as an impressive and attractive place to live, work, or visit by involving the entire community in positive beautification efforts. The West Columbia Beautification Foundation partners with the City of West Columbia to beautify both public and private areas through landscaping.
The Green Small Business Award was given to City Roots; At City Roots, they strive to plant the seeds of sustainability to take root throughout their community. Started in 2009 from humble beginnings, to this day, they aim to create a culture that enhances and educates their community about the benefits of locally grown food and environmentally friendly farming practices.
The Green Sustainability Leadership Award was given to Chenille Williams; Bringing Georgia’s Adopt-A-Stream program to Richland County, Ms. William’s collaborated with other partners and certified 60 residents in RC stream monitoring. Ms. Williams has been an active mentor at Killian elementary school and has served as a guest lecturer at USC on the topic of water quality & surface water protection. Ms. Williams is knowledgeable, dedicated to the environment and her community.
The Green Large Business Award was given to Columbia Metropolitan Airport; with many capital improvements underway or planned in the near future, the airport has termed these capital improvements “ECOProjects” where ECO stands for “Enhanced Construction Opportunities.” The airport shows that green initiatives are not only a benefit to the environment but are also cost efficient. The construction projects are GreenSpec, EnergyStar & International Conservation Code certified, will save the Airport Authority over $300,000 in energy costs, generate 14 megawatts in electricity and will host recycling containers throughout the airport property. Finally, these projects will ensure guests travel through the facility with ease; reduce the airports carbon footprint; lower energy & other costs & stimulate business development opportunities in the surrounding area.
The Green Elected Official Award was given to Mayor Stephen Benjamin; recently Mayor Benjamin led the charge on climate initiatives, both in South Carolina and nationally, as the Vice-President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Now, Benjamin wants his city to be leader in the effort to ward off climate change. Mayor Benjamin has plans for achieving that, including providing rain barrels to residents, incorporating solar usage on city buildings and creating a new “green” wastewater treatment facility. He hopes these efforts will help Columbia become exclusively reliant on renewable energy by the year 2036. Mayor Benjamins 10,000 tree initiative is well underway; energy efficient lighting now illuminate city buildings and electric car charging pods are encouraging greener ways to get to work. The Mayor’s open door policy to new ideas has always been an asset to the green community.
The Green Enforcement Officer of the Year was given to Senior Deputy Rudy Osteen; Sr. Deputy Osteen received the law enforcement officer of the year for his continual efforts to clean up Region 4 of Richland County. Throughout 2017, Sr. Deputy Osteen has put together cleansweeps with community members and was instrumental in developing brochures to educate the community about code enforcement.
Finally, the Keep the Midland Beautiful Board of Directors recognized Keep the Midlands Beautiful Partner/Volunteer of the Year, it was given to Karen Swank Kustafik; Assistant Superintendent of Columbia Parks and Recreation, Ms. Kustafik has been a fantastic partner to KMB over the years. Her wealth of knowledge and can do attitude have helped us fulfill multiple tree planting grants in the parks of Columbia. Ms. Kustafik also gives instruction to our volunteers and helps KMB with their mission. We are so pleased to recognize Karen Kustafik with our 2017 Partner/Volunteer award.