‘Bloom’ judges in town

Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bruce Riggs and Cindi Cope, judges for America in Bloom, made their way into Demopolis late Sunday afternoon to do extensive touring, have interviews with municipal representatives and meetings with community volunteers on Monday and Tuesday.

They even made their way to the Kiwanis Club yesterday to share lunch and talk briefly about their time here in Demopolis.

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“We’re here to judge the city/municipality, the businesses and the residents of the community in the eight criteria of judging,” Cope said. “We’re hoping to be nice, critical and offer suggestions to those involved in hopes that they will make changes if any.”

Their criteria is as follows and each category is worth 125 points: community involvement, tidiness, environmental efforts, heritage preservation, urban forestry, landscapes, floral displays, turf and groundcovers. These criteria are examined across three sectors: commercial, municipal, and residential.

Riggs and Cope will prepare an extensive written evaluation, offering observations of exceptional practices and suggestions for improvements. It will then be given to the community after awards are announced in October.

“Many towns use these evaluations as a blueprint for further enhancements to their quality of life and to support grant applications,” Riggs said. “We are giving suggestions from how to make sure the fields at the park can recover from so much use to better grass choices for residents.”

During their time in Demopolis, Riggs and Cope toured Rock Tenn, Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, Gaineswood, the Historic District, Bluff Hall, Rooster Hall, Rowley Recycling and not to mention many other sites.

“I was excited to find out that Demopolis had a recycling area,” Cope said. “Not may towns of this size have such a thing. That only enhances the area. Also, the fact that the town and schools take part in the Take Pride Statewide – Auntie Litter Campaign, among others to help keep kids aware of their surroundings is great. The high school is beautiful and keeping the landscaping the way it is will make the kids that attend school there less likely to litter. It is a proven fact that the more landscaping you have means the kids take notice and are less likely to litter.”

Thus far, some potential improvements the judges have noted related to conserving energy and reducing emissions.

Cope suggested that RockTenn could deliver a truckload of chips from the mill in the top soil beside the water treatment plant, after a year those chips would decompose and make a compost pile for the city to use to in their flower beds.

Also, when the traffic lights go out in town, replacing the bulbs with LED lights will mean longer lasting bulbs and the use of energy will fall. Finally, rather than using trucks to read water meters with homes grouped so close together, Cope suggested using golf carts.

She said with golf carts, there will be lower emissions and that in turn is better for the environment.

Riggs and Cope were both amazed at the community involvement and the heritage portrayed by the city. Cope said that she was blown away at the signs from local businesses located at each hole on the golf courses and she also said that she was stunned by the pride taken in the town’s history.

“It’s amazing to see such heritage in this town,” she said. “Not only the old homes and locations, but also the community coming together to make it what it is today. It is a gratifying experience to judge to such a wonderful community and seeing how planting pride in the community is so important, and that’s what America in Bloom is all about.”