Jason Shelton

JASON SHELTON

Littering is not a new topic yet continues to be one of the ongoing problems in Tupelo. Most of us remember Iron Eyes Cody on the 1970’s “Keep America Beautiful” commercial. During that time, a huge nationwide effort was made to bring awareness to the matter of littering. Through the years many campaigns have been launched both nationally and locally to educate the public about the affects of litter in our communities. As mayor, my concern is the problem of litter locally and how it affects our city and neighborhoods, economy, environment and quality of life.

We know that litter costs our city, county and state money, but there are also indirect costs our residents pay for litter including property value, tourism, businesses and development. Along with spending taxpayer dollars to clean up litter along our roadways, litter also lowers property values, loses valuable tourist dollars for Tupelo, and is a contributing factor in the overall disintegration of neighborhoods. The appearance of a city and its neighborhoods is also a factor when companies and businesses are looking at communities in which to locate. Unsightly litter translates into lack of pride in a community and can deter an industry from locating in our city, eliminating jobs that could be created.

Keep America Beautiful surveyed homeowners, realtors, and business development officials nationally and released the following statistics:

• 93% of homeowners say a littered neighborhood would decrease their assessment of a home’s value and influences their decision to purchase a property.

• 36% of business development officials say that litter impacts a decision to locate to a community.

• 55% of realtors think that litter reduces property values by about 9%.

• 60% of property appraisers would reduce a home’s value if neighborhood is littered.

• The presence of litter in a community decreases property values by a little over 7%, according to the National Association of Home Builders pricing model.

Tupelo is a wonderful community to live, work, play and visit. We have so much to be proud of. Tupelo has a year-round litter program managed by our city courts, but we still need your help. I hope that you will join our effort to keep Tupelo beautiful, as each of us share a responsibility to keep our city clean and attractive. The city of Tupelo has partnered with Keep Tupelo Beautiful to launch a campaign, the Tupelo Trash Challenge. We are challenging everyone to contribute to the solution of litter in our city, especially to honor Tupelo’s Sesquicentennial. During the months of February and March, we are asking groups to pick up litter along streets and roadways, around businesses, parks and neighborhoods. All groups are welcome and encouraged to participate including our schools, businesses, churches, sports teams, non-profits and neighborhood associations. Choose an area for improvement, pick up trash, then take a selfie or video of your group and post to social media using the hashtag: #TupeloTrashChallenge

In your post, challenge two to three friends, businesses, or other groups to do the same. Photos and videos will be shared on city of Tupelo social media accounts. Free trash bags will be provided and can be picked up at Tupelo City Hall.

We hope that the #TupeloTrashChallenge will be a fun way to help tackle the problem of litter in our community. A litter-free Tupelo starts with one person, one community, one business, and one city coming together to create a clean and green city now and for future generations. The coordination and collaboration of city departments, businesses and community groups can make a huge impact in cleaning up Tupelo.

Tupelo is a pretty amazing place. With so much to do and so much to see, let’s make it even better with an all-out community effort to tidy up. With your help, we’ll make Tupelo shine and look its very best for our 150th Birthday. I challenge you with the #TupeloTrashChallenge … let’s get busy!

JASON SHELTON is the mayor of Tupelo. Readers can contact him at jason.shelton@tupeloms.gov

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