Clinton retiree Herschel Bowman is a "pusher" — of people, that is. He doesn’t take no for an answer when it comes to keeping Sherwood beautiful.
"If you don’t return my call, I call you back," he says.
It’s that stick-to-itiveness that made Robert Phelps, director of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission, know that Bowman was the right man to launch Keep Sherwood Beautiful in 2007.
"Founding the local affiliate and helping it thrive makes Bowman a Lodestar," Phelps explains. A lodestar is someone who serves as an inspiration, model or guide. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission is recognizing 25 individuals for guiding their neighborhoods and communities in an effort to keep Arkansas clean, green and free of litter.
Bowman, now retired to Clinton, remembers vividly the day he met Phelps.
"Robert came to speak at our chamber of commerce. Afterwards, he said ‘If anybody is interested, come see me,’ because they had tried to get it started a couple years before and it fell apart," says Bowman. "I walked up to him and said, ‘Ya know, I’m kinda interested in this.’ Robert replied, ‘Well good, you’re nominated’."
Bowman called up eight or nine of his friends, and they had a meeting at his office and it went from there. "Everyone just started talking to people. I am a pusher, so I don’t take no for an answer," Bowman says.
Once the Keep Sherwood Beautiful board of directors was formed, the organization needed a director. Betty Barnhardt was the perfect candidate for the job.
"We performed a Community Awareness Index, we’d drive around Sherwood to see what was clean and what was dirty. It grew from that," Bowman says. "We started having cleanups and people on the board would tell us where in Sherwood we needed to clean up. Afterwards, we’d have hot dogs and cokes, and we’d all have a big cookout."
Cleanups can be fun but there’s a serious side, Bowman says. Thanks to KAB’s partnership with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, residents are able to report littering.
"If I see trash fly out of a pickup truck or someone throwing trash out of their window, I get their license number and call it in. A letter is sent reminding the owner of the vehicle to take pride in Arkansas," he says. "We aren’t called The Natural State for nothing – and we want to keep it that way for generations to come."