Keep Van Buren Beautiful will celebrate its 10th anniversary as an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful with an invitation-only lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, June 17, at the Van Buren Police Department Community Room.

Approximately 40 guests, including city and county officials, are expected to attend, according to John Pope, director of KVBB.

Invited guests include Judge Steven Peer, Keep Arkansas Beautiful State Director Robert Phelps, Keep America Beautiful Vice President Affiliate Relations Cecile Carson, Van Buren Mayor Robert Freeman, State Rep. Charlene Fite and numerous business people who have supported Keep Van Buren Beautiful the past 10 years.

"Thanks to strong community support we have made a significant difference in the appearance of Van Buren," Pope said.

The community service worker program has reduced trash on Van Buren streets by picking up more than 11,000 30-gallon size trash bags since the program began, Pope said.

"We continue to promote recycling in the schools and also support the city’s efforts to increase recycling rates," he said. "Our efforts in reducing cigarette litter on Main Street have made a real difference in the appearance of our tourist area. We have recycled five 53-foot tractor trailers full of electronic waste. These a few of our success stories."

Pope said that Keep Van Buren Beautiful has been honored by Keep America Beautiful for its efforts and has received numerous grants for cigarette litter prevention.

"The grants have enabled Keep Van Buren Beautiful to place many cigarette urns on Main Street reducing the litter significantly over the years," Pope said. "The grants have also enabled KVBB to give away hundreds of pocket ashtrays free of charge at CV’s market."

Keep Van Buren Beautiful also has received a President’s Circle Award from Keep America Beautiful every year it has been an affiliate. The award only goes to affiliates who participate in all of Keep America Beautiful’s many programs.

"Because of its overall efforts Keep Van Buren Beautiful can show it has reduced the overall amount of litter on the streets by more than 50 percent," Pope said.

As a result of these efforts the City of Van Buren received a Shine Award from Keep Arkansas Beautiful two years in a row in 2009 and 2010.

Pope said another event later in the year will be for the many volunteers that have worked at litter pickups.