‘Bloom’ judges arrive in Demopolis

Published 6:53 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Judges from the America in Bloom (AIB) are back in Demopolis, 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.

This year’s visit began yesterday and will conclude today.

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Judges spend two days in each town and do extensive touring, conduct interviews with municipal representatives, and meet with community volunteers. They 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.

Demopolis’ judges this year are Alex Pearl and Dwight Lund.

Alex Pearl, of Centerville, Ohio, has been an AIB judge since the organization’s inception. In fact, Alex was one of the judges during the pilot program in 2001.

For than 20 years, Alex has worked with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Warren Correctional Institution, Lebanon, Ohio as a Vocational Horticulture Teacher. In this time period he has developed a leading horticulture program that has been a model for others to emulate.

“It’s interesting to note that all four of the towns we’re judging are sited on rivers which have been instrumental in their history and development,” Pearl said.

Dwight Lund was born and raised in a family greenhouse business that started as a wholesale florist. Dwight, who lives in Warrenville, Ill., attended the University of Illinois earning a bachelor’s degree in Floriculture. Over the next 40 years he held positions as grower, manager, partner and eventually president of the company. During the years the wholesale florist business evolved to a retail greenhouse, flower shop and garden center. 
In addition, Dwight spent 20 years in education, teaching horticulture classes at Kishwaukee Community College and DuPage Area Vocational Education Authority.

“Alex Pearl and I are looking forward to seeing Demopolis…,” Lund said. “The community offers such a vitality and wealth of interest. After reading the community profile submitted by Demopolis, I’m confident that they’re well prepared for the visit of the America In Bloom team.”