Wednesday, June 25, 2014

TOP STORY >> State agency honors Ron Newport

Ron Newport, the founder of Keep Jacksonville Beautiful, was named an official Arkansas lodestar by Keep Arkansas Beautiful for his dedication to improving the city’s image and for his work at the recycling center, which was recently named in his honor.

“This was a team effort for the city of Jacksonville, not just me. I didn’t do this all by myself, that’s for sure,” Newport said.

The award was established to mark Keep Arkansas Beautiful’s 25th anniversary. Former Gov. Bill Clinton created it on June 13, 1989.

Robert Phelps, the group’s executive director, said Newport’s leadership has improved Jacksonville’s quality of life and vitality.

Here is Newport’s Q&A with Phelps:

What’s your reaction to being honored as an Arkansas Lodestar?

I’m very flattered! It’s quite an honor.

In what ways have you worked with Keep Arkansas Beautiful?

Well, I started Keep Jacksonville Beautiful about five years ago. I was also responsible for the development of the recycling education park in Jacksonville, and I was honored with the park being named after me just a few weeks ago. It was very nice. It is now called the Ron Newport Recycling Education Park.

When did development begin?

We started on it many thousands of dollars ago and many work hours ago…It was about the same time that we were working to establish Keep Jacksonville Beautiful. I had been dreaming about doing the recycling education park for a long time though. Everything just came together.

Tell us more about the Ron Newport Recycling Park.

It is such a lovely place out there. At the park, we have 11 stations and each one is a recycled product sculpture, each sponsored by a different company.

We also have a 15-station drop-off site at the park, which is open at night and on the weekends. It all just evolved. There isn’t another one like it in the United States. We are proud to have many visitors from all over and lots of children especially. Nearly 5,000 kids come here each year.

How did you do it, Ron?

I’ve had a tremendous amount of help from the Keep Jacksonville Beautiful board of directors, the city of Jacksonville and a regional recycling group. A lot of others in the community chipped in to help by giving donations. It, by far, wasn’t one single person. It was a whole lot of people who helped accomplish this.