Each year, the Governor’s Community Achievement Awards (GCAA) celebrate ten Texas communities for their outstanding efforts to keep their communities beautiful. From the Texas coast to the Panhandle, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has awarded cities with this honor since 1986. Winners are selected for their ability to engage citizens, local businesses, schools, and other organizations in environmental improvement initiatives. Categorized by population, these ten cities share an award of $2 million in landscaping projects. Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) and TxDOT have worked together to administer the GCAA for more than 30 years.
As we gear up for GCAA 2019, we’ll be featuring all ten of our 2018 GCAA recipients over the next few months on our blog. To help you prepare for the 2019 application, we’re offering a number of new resources, including our affiliate Forum and upcoming webinar on January 17. Register for our webinar, engage in our forum and stay tuned to learn about our other winning communities on our blog!
Category 9: Abilene
Landscape Award: $290,000
Abilene was founded in 1881 and sits in the heart of the Texas “Big Country.” Home to 122,315 residents, Abilene occupies 112 square miles of land and has slowly evolved from a cattle-shipping prairie town to an invigorating metropolis on the plains. The city’s core purpose is to “work together to build and maintain a community of the highest quality for present and future generations.” This is evident in the city’s close relationship with Keep Abilene Beautiful (KAB), which works hard to engage and educate citizens of Abilene to get involved in their community.
The City of Abilene is a community of purposeful citizens who support KAB and actively engage in community improvement projects. Within the past year, KAB welcomed new events and brought back old ones to involve residents and work together to enhance the city. They hosted the 20th anniversary of “Myrtle’s Coming, Get Your Bed Ready,” a fundraising event where KAB sells crape myrtle trees to Abilene residents. Abilene ISD also welcomed back the Keep AISD Beautiful committee that organized educational opportunities and events on their campuses.
“Partnerships in the community are what make us successful,” says Sylvia Holcomb, KAB’s President. Abilene annually hosts a Don’t mess with Texas® Trash-Off, which grew over 50 percent this year through its partnership with the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. KAB also hosted their first fall Arbor Day tree planting event, in partnership with six local businesses and organizations.
The community continues to expand educational opportunities with the installation of demonstration gardens at the Historical Swenson House, the Center for Contemporary Art’s summer Trash Camp for youth and the Abilene Zoo conservation education initiative. In August, the City of Abilene also opened the Citizens Convenience Station allowing for free disposal of bulky items year-round for Abilene residents.
“Winning the GCAA affirms all the hard work and diligent efforts the community has put into providing our citizens with a cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing environment,” says Holcomb. She believes that this award will bolster their efforts to create a sustainable and beautiful Abilene.