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Local Couple Honored for Community Service

The owner/operators of Kayaking Adventures of Tennessee were recognized by the DeKalb County Commission last week for their efforts at keeping the county clean. Eddie Ramos and Tara Hunt, were presented with “Community Service Awards” during the March 25 regular monthly Commission meeting for their volunteer work in collecting and properly disposing of trash from local waterways and other areas in the county.

Eddie and Tara have done some great things for DeKalb County. After the Jamboree they cleaned up around the square and they have taken all kinds of trash out of hollows, etc. and have helped clean up DeKalb County to make it a better place. We want to recognize them with community service awards,” said County Mayor Matt Adcock.

This is the second time the couple has received recognition for their work. In December 2022, they were recognized by the Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen for cleaning Smithville streets following the Smithville Christmas Parade.

The couple’s business, Kayaking Adventures of Tennessee, or KAT, also offers incentives to local tourist for not only keeping local waterways clean, but also picking up trash that is found during trips.  The company offers kayak tours from to Burgess Falls in Sparta, and participants are provided bags to pick up as much trash as possible. The person who collects the most on the trip gets a shiny new KAT Challenge Button, and their picture on the KAT website and on the KAT Challenge Page. They also get a special shout-out on the KAT Facebook and Instagram pages for being protectors of beautiful Tennessee waterways.

“We do this cleanup on every kayak trip through out KAT Challenge competition and in our off season we devote as much of our time as possible to cleaning up DeKalb, White, and Putnam counties. We do cleanups all winter long, at least four or five days a week,” said Tara.

“We have a big trailer that we usually have our kayaks in, and we take it out, go all over, and fill it up as well as our pickup truck. I consider it a hobby. I love doing it. The more trash we can get the more fun it is for me. We post our cleanup events in the wintertime on our personal pages and people can join us and they often do. We have had people on kayaks come with us out on the water in some of our organized cleanups. We do a lot with responsible stewardship so they will organize a cleanup and we will go to places like Watts Bar Lake and help with their cleanups,” said Tara.

“We welcome anyone to join us or to clean up their own part of the lake or neighborhood because it makes a difference,” said Eddie.

“When we go back to the places we have cleaned up, there is a lot less litter than there had been before. When you start going out in nature and you see how beautiful it is and then you start seeing people throw stuff down or not packing it up and taking it back out, that is something that bothers me,” added Ramos.

“We just went to Burgess Falls this last Saturday. We try to keep the base of that clean. It’s a state park. There was a big group of people who had just left and they had thrown all their apple cores and orange peels on the ground. The orange peels take two years to break down. Plus, it’s not natural to the environment. We picked all that up and left it prettier for the next group who decides to go down there,” said Ramos.

“We started doing recycling on the plastics we were getting,” Eddie continued. “The first time we decided to do recycling was when we went to Four Seasons Marina. We collected tons of plastic. That led us to going to the basketball games and other places and cleaning up their plastic,” said Ramos.

“The solid waste department is letting us bring tires, etc,” said Tara. “Tires is one of the main things we pull from the lake and (County Solid Waste Director) James (Goff) has been a blessing to allow us to pile those tires there,” added Ramos.