Berlin Seeking Keep America Beautiful Affiliate Status

BERLIN – Town officials have applied to have Berlin become an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful.

Mayor Gee Williams wrote to Connecticut-based nonprofit Keep America Beautiful this month asking to have the town made an affiliate.

“One of our attractions to residents, and visitors as well, is the beauty of our town,” Williams said.

He said that the town not only supported the organization’s mission — to inspire and educate people to take action to beautify their community environment — but that it would also benefit from making nationwide connections.

“The more partnerships we develop, you get information, you see what other communities are doing,” he said, adding that connections with other communities could lead to new ideas that could be implemented in Berlin.

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While the town’s values align with Keep America Beautiful, the application to the network was mandated by the state. According to Ivy Wells, Berlin’s economic and community development director, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development required each Maryland Main Street program to apply for Keep America Beautiful certification. Because the Keep America Beautiful application fee is $1,000, Wells worked to find a grant to cover the cost.

“When finding out that Berlin must apply for the Keep America Beautiful certification, I needed to find grant money to fulfill the obligation because without the grant we would not be able to do this,” Wells said.

She was able to secure a $5,000 grant from Keep Maryland Beautiful that funded the $1,000 application fee as well as other sustainable projects in town, such as the purchase of reusable shopping bags and clean-up day.

Wells said that to maintain Main Street status last year, participating towns had had to purchase a $500 magazine advertisement. Despite the costs associated with maintaining the town’s status as a Main Street Maryland community, Wells said it was important because it made the town eligible for certain grant funding from the state that is only available to Main Street communities. In the past, the town has received those grants and used them to purchase items such as the downtown wayfinding signs and the new trash cans that will be installed this summer.

“We’ve received significant grant funding by being a designated Main Street,” Wells said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.