‘Bloom’ judges coming back to Demopolis

Published 1:33 pm Friday, April 20, 2012

Still basking in the glow from their 2011 designation by America in Bloom, Demopolis now faces the tall task of defending it.

Judges from the America in Bloom (AIB) will return to Demopolis next month, not quite a year after their fellow judges visited which ultimately lead to the Three Bloom Award from the organization and received a special mention for community involvement.

This year, Demopolis is one of 27 towns across America working on local revitalization programs with the hopes of receiving a prestigious America in Bloom national award and is competing against Belpre, OH; Charles City, IA; and Greendale, IN in the 4,501 to 8,000 population category.

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This year’s visit will take place May 1-2.

In preparation for the visit, the City of Demopolis will hit the streets this Monday, Thursday and Friday next week hauling away debris for residents who haul their limbs and debris curbside.

“We had a lot of people do a lot of cleanup work last year,” Public Works Manager Mike Baker said of last year’s efforts. “Hopefully, this year won’t be as busy because a lot of the work has already been done.”

This year, much of the city’s efforts will be in getting trash and debris removed, picking up litter and cleaning out ditches.

“What we need is for the homeowners and landowners is to get out and cut their grass and clean up,” Baker said. “This is our town and we need to maintain it. If you own a lot and it’s overgrown, please go out there and cut it. If your neighbors’ grass is getting too tall, go check on them. You may find out they’re sick or having some kind of problem. You can help them and by helping them, you’re helping the city.”

Judges spend two days in each town and do extensive touring, conduct interviews with municipal representatives, and meet with community volunteers. The tour will be led by Baker, Kirk Brooker and City Horticulturist Barbara Blevins.

Judges evaluate six criteria: overall impression, environmental efforts, heritage preservation, urban forestry, landscaped areas, and floral displays. These criteria are examined across four sectors: commercial, municipal, residential, and community involvement. The judges will prepare an extensive written evaluation offering observations of exceptional practices and suggestions for improvements. It is given to the community after awards are announced in September.

Many towns use these evaluations as a blueprint for further enhancements to their quality of life and to support grant applications.