John Cuttino Jr. is preparing to take on two leadership positions in Orangeburg County that will focus on tackling the county's litter problem and protecting the environment.
The 21-year-old has been named the new director of Keep Orangeburg County Beautiful and district manager of the Orangeburg County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Cuttino grew up in Norway and resides in Neeses.
His appointment follows the retirement of Glenda Lewis in December. Lewis had served as district manager for 24 years and had also served as director of KOCB, an affiliate of Keep South Carolina Beautiful.
“During this past year of college, it came to my attention that Glenda was retiring. I had been working with this office for as long as I could remember on different things. With all of my experience with Keep America Beautiful, I couldn’t imagine doing anything differently with my life,” Cuttino said.
Cuttino is a student at Greenwood’s Lander University, where he is a business administration major with an emphasis on management and marketing and is minoring in psychology.
While in high school, Cuttino was appointed by KOCB to serve as its representative on the Youth Advisory Council of Keep America Beautiful, one of the nation’s premier community improvement nonprofit organizations.
“Students from all across America submitted applications to Keep America Beautiful, and I was one of 10 in the United States chosen to be a representative on this advisory council,” Cuttino said.
What does he hope to accomplish in his new role?
“To start with, I would like to see us branch out and reach more of Orangeburg County than we have in the past, especially the rural communities. They get overlooked with a lot of things, and it’s our job to serve the whole community,” Cuttino said.
“Conservation itself has always been important in my family. We’re large timber farmers in Orangeburg County, and I’ve always been around wildlife and nature. It’s always been my passion. Even when I went to college, I was president of their environmental science student organization for two years,” he said.
Keep South Carolina Beautiful Director Mallory Biering said she is looking forward to working with Cuttino to enhance beautification efforts in Orangeburg County.
“Litter awareness is a huge part of what we do, but our real and ultimate goal is to spark community pride. Orangeburg County Council just enabled a new litter ordinance. So the affiliate is very interested in working with the county on implementing the new ordinance and growing the enforcement program so that not only can they prevent littering, but they can also enforce the litter laws associated with the county and the state,” Biering said.
Diane Curlee serves as education coordinator of Orangeburg's SWCD and KOCB. She is also secretary of the Orangeburg County Litter Control Committee, which Orangeburg County Councilwoman Janie Cooper-Smith has spearheaded to tackle the county’s litter problem.
KOCB, Orangeburg County Litter Control and the county government sponsored a Litter Challenge, a volunteer countywide cleanup project, in September to help combat litter.
“The Litter Challenge committee has been working on enforcement. That’s where Janie Cooper’s committee comes in. We’ve been working with the county to do a better job of enforcement,” Curlee said.
Keep America Beautiful affiliates in South Carolina are key partners of PalmettoPride, a legislative initiative created to fight litter and help beautify the state, in expanding its programs and volunteer base across the state.
Biering said, “Keep South Carolina Beautiful is under PalmettoPride, the state’s anti-litter campaign. It works with each affiliate, making sure training is up to date, planning sessions and getting out into the community to see where weaknesses can be turned into strengths … . We give out grants multiple times a year.”
She said she feels confident Cuttino, who has already revamped the Orangeburg SWCD’s website, will do a good job in his new roles.
“John has experience with Keep America Beautiful. He just understands the things that need to be done and how they should be done ... ," Biering said.
"I can honestly say that Keep Orangeburg County Beautiful and the affiliates across the state are some of the most marvelous people I’ve met,” she said.
Lewis said she most enjoyed serving the people and an “excellent board” in her former role. She said she is also hopeful that the new leadership will succeed, particularly with the help of newly crafted litter enforcement laws in the county.
“The first week John was there he took our website and made it look like a million dollars. With Diane there and them working with litter control like they have, I am very hopeful,” she said.