Keep Texas Beautiful has awarded the city of Killeen with the Governor’s Community Achievement Award for beautification projects like the new building facades shown above on Avenue D in downtown Killeen. The award is accompanied by a $290,000 grant for landscaping projects along state roadways.

By Rose L. Thayer
Killeen Daily Herald

Keep Texas Beautiful awarded the city of Killeen the Governor’s Community Achievement Award, which includes a $290,000 grant from the Texas Department of Transportation, city officials announced earlier this week.

Judges from across the state select one city from each of the 10 population categories for the award. Winners are selected based on their achievements in seven environment and community improvement areas: community leadership and coordination, education, public awareness, litter prevention and cleanup, illegal dumping enforcement, beautification and property improvement and solid waste management.

Because the criteria is so vast, Will Brewster, director of volunteer services, said it takes the combined effort of volunteers, city workers and citizens to make this achievement possible.

“It’s a tremendous sense of accomplishment, pride and hard work,” Brewster said. “And it’s a very heartening to encourage us to keep trying to educate and beautify our city.”

Some of the projects listed on Killeen’s application included the waterway and roadside cleanups, planting trees through Tree City USA, recycling at Rodeo Killeen, the historic building facade grant program and the education efforts in schools.

Lupe Salais, a board member of Keep Killeen Beautiful, helped put together the application. She said one of her favorite outreach areas is the educational programs in schools.

“It’s really exciting to see how receptive they are and how excited they get and how into it they are,” Salais said. “A lot of times it’s the kids that tell parents, ‘Oh you should be recycling that.'”

The city has applied for the award every year, and Salais said it’s always gotten good marks, but that this is the first time to actually win.

“We were always the bridesmaid and never the actual winner,” she joked.

The grant money is designated to beautify and landscape along TxDOT roads. Killeen will officially receive the award and grant at a ceremony in June at the Keep Texas Beautiful annual conference in Austin.