ARLEY - Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy (WCSLA)’s Board of Directors discussed the annual spring Renew Our Rivers cleanup of Smith Lake, the scholarship it awards annually and the collection of members’ dues at its quarterly meeting at the Arley Fire Department on March 14.
The lake cleanup will take place Thursday, April 27, and Friday, April 28, at 8:30 a.m., with multiple groups departing by boat from Houston Recreational Area.
Volunteers are needed. They are asked to bring a personal flotation device, sunscreen and insect repellent. Trash bags will be provided.
Renew Our Rivers is an Alabama Power initiative with which WCSLA partners for two cleanups a year on the Winston County portion of Smith Lake. Staff of the U.S. Forest Service’s Bankhead District also lend their expertise and labor to the cleanups.
Last April, an estimated 9,500 pounds of trash were collected from the shores and water of Smith Lake during the spring cleanup.
This year, Alabama Power will be providing 2-3 boats for the cleanup as well as T-shirts and lunch for participants. WCSLA will provide one boat, as will its president, Jim Eason. Volunteers who have boats may bring their own as well.
Every year, WCSLA awards the $1,000 LaVerne E. Matheson Scholarship to a senior in Winston County or the Rock Creek Watershed, which includes West Point High School. Homeschool students may apply as well as students who attend county and city schools.
Named for the WCSLA’s founder, the scholarship is intended to encourage students to pursue fields of study that are “in keeping with the mission” of WCSLA, but no specific intended major is required to apply. To be considered, students must have applied to a 2- or 4-year college, university or technical school.
Scholarship applications and other materials, including 500-word essays entitled “The Importance of Keeping the Watersheds and Waterways Clean for the Future,” must be turned in to school guidance counselors by Thursday, April 20. The WCSLA board of directors, which selects the winner, will receive copies of the materials at the cleanup.
Collection of dues
At the board of directors meeting, WCSLA Secretary-Treasurer Missy Jones said dues have not been collected from members in two years and suggested accepting online payment of dues through a platform called Cheddar Up.
“I've been looking into ways that we can (collect dues) electronically that (are) safe, secure (and have) little to no cost and easy access,” Jones said.
She said unlike platforms like PayPal, Cheddar Up does not require users to create an account to make a payment. Instead, members would be sent a link that would allow them to find WCSLA on the Cheddar Up site or app. They would then make a payment using a credit or debit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.
Jones suggested members also be asked to provide relevant information when paying their dues by filling in a form that would be customized by WCSLA, which is lacking even addresses for many of its members.
She explained that Cheddar Up charges 59 cents per transaction and a 3.5 percent convenience fee for card payments, which WCSLA can opt to pay instead of members being charged additional fees when they pay their dues.
Considering that some members may not be comfortable with online payments, Board of Directors Member Brian Kuntz pointed out that Cheddar Up could be offered as just one option for payment while more traditional means, like sending a check by mail, remained available.
Board of Directors Member Louis Kuntz pointed out that even if WCSLA covers the fees, the organization would still clear roughly $9 out of every $10 paid.
The board decided to table making a decision about Cheddar Up until more board members were present or could be consulted.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.