In 1965, Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, took the first giant step forward to clean up America, especially America’s highways. In the words of Lady Bird Johnson, “There is much the government can do and should do to improve the environment. But even more important is the individual who plants a tree or cleans a corner of neglect. For it is the individual who himself benefits, and also protects a heritage of beauty for his children and future generations.”
Now, after all these years, Floyd County has chosen to turn back the pages of time and borrow from a page of history in an effort to benefit all those who call Floyd County and Eastern Kentucky home. Judge Executive Robbie Williams and the Floyd County Magistrates have taken their own giant step forward to clean up Floyd County; to protect the heritage of beauty of the mountains of Floyd County and beyond in order to leave behind a heritage of beauty for our children and future generations.
As part of this bold initiative, Judge Williams took the words of Lady Bird Johnson when she said, “There is much government can do and should do to improve the environment,” and turned those words into action for Floyd Countians. What Judge Williams and the Magistrates understand is that those who live in Floyd County, and more importantly those who visit Floyd County and Eastern Kentucky, will never see the real beauty of the region unless and until those who live here adopt a belief that all of us can do our part to protect the heritage of the beauty of the mountains not only for ourselves, our children, but more importantly for future generations.
Recently, when asked about the reason behind this bold initiative to restore the beauty of Floyd County and Eastern Kentucky, Judge Williams shared the following words:
With the passage of the new trash ordinance in Floyd County it really gives us the ability to increase awareness in our community and work with our residents to be more diligent in the appearance and perception of our community. We all have a shared responsibility to ensure that we put our best foot forward for the future of Eastern Kentucky.
If there could be any criticism of Floyd County’s efforts to restore beauty to the region, it is the label which Judge Williams and the Magistrates gave to the ordinance. Instead of calling the ordinance the trash ordinance, Judge Williams should borrow another page from history and rename the ordinance, “The Floyd County and Eastern Kentucky Beautification Act.”
Of course, just like Lady Bird Johnson’s beautification initiative, there are likely those who doubt that this initiative will make a difference. Again, turn back a page in time and ask yourself where the idea for the fields of wildflowers which now beautify our nation’s highways was born. Yes, you guessed it, Lady Bird Johnson. As one of our nation’s first environmentalists, Lady Bird Johnson was responsible for the idea of beautifying our nation’s highways with fields of wildflowers. Today, from that first simple act, there are thousands of fields of wildflowers along our nation’s highways, wildflowers which have been left behind to beautify America for future generations.
What Floyd Countians need to understand is that Judge Williams and the Magistrates did not pass this ordinance to burden our community. Instead, they want all Floyd Countians to know that this beautification initiative is critical for this generation and future generations as the region moves away from a coal economy. They need to understand that they stand ready to roll up their sleeves and pitch in and help. They need to understand that in order to showcase the natural beauty of Floyd County, and its hidden treasures, hidden treasures which will attract hundreds, if not thousands of visitors to Floyd County and the region, that this beautification initiative can only be achieved if everyone pitches in to restore the beauty of Floyd County, which someday will allow people from across the nation to refer to Floyd County as the most beautiful place to visit in Eastern Kentucky.
Finally, to paraphrase the words of Lady Bird Johnson, all Floyd Countian’s need to understand is that to beautify Floyd County, each of us needs to plant a tree or clean up a corner of neglect in the community. And before you know it, Floyd County will soon be on the road to being a place all Floyd Countians can be proud of not only for our generation, our children, and most importantly for future generations.
In the end, the next time you see Judge Williams or one of the Magistrates, take a moment to thank each of them for their willingness to take a page out of history, a page intended to clean up Floyd County and Eastern Kentucky, to ensure that all of us leaves behind a heritage of beauty for our children and future generations.