America in Bloom judges to visit Demopolis

Published 1:15 pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Judges from the America in Bloom (AIB) national awards program will visit Demopolis on June 20 and 21. This is Demopolis’ third entry in the America In Bloom national awards program.

Demopolis is competing against Tarboro, N.C., and Coshocton, Ohio, in the 7,001 to 12,000-population category. Judges are Ed Hooker and Jim Abraham.

Ed Hooker is the historic architect for Fort Riley, Kan. After graduating from Auburn University with a degree in architecture, Ed began his career in historic preservation with the Alabama Historical Commission, the Alabama State Historic Preservation Office, where he worked with communities to realize the potential of their threatened historic landmarks.

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He later was the historic architect for the Mobile Historic Development Commission, where he staffed the city’s Architectural Review Board and provided preservation guidance and architectural design assistance to residents of Mobile’s eight historic districts.

“Growing up just one county away I have fond memories of touring Gaineswood, a National Historic Landmark, and attending Christmas on the River,” Hooker said. “It will be great to be back in the area and tour the community with a new appreciation and perspective.”

James Abraham grew up in southern Indiana and has spent 35 years in the historic preservation profession. Fifteen years ago he moved to Savannah, Ga., to serve as the project manager for the restoration of the city’s Lucas Theatre. Since 2002, he has taught for the Savannah College of Art and Design as a professor of historic preservation. Hundreds of students have worked with Abraham on various projects, including commercial, civic, residential, and religious structures that have all positively impacted the revitalization of Savannah’s Landmark Historic District.

Throughout his life, Abraham has been an avid gardener, in both the Midwest and South, and takes particular pride in his hybrid tea roses. Living in Savannah, a park city with a rich landscaping tradition, has furthered his appreciation of the importance of beautifying downtowns to enhance urban life.

His work in preservation, along with his service in the Indiana State Senate, has given him experience with non-profit organizations as well as governmental and regulatory agencies.

Participants in the contest have opportunities to receive recognition in the following areas:

•Bloom rating

•Population category winner

•Outstanding achievement award – the “best of the best” over all participants in each of the six evaluated criteria

•Special mention – for what the judges deem to be an extraordinary project or program.

•Population category winners are invited to participate in international competition via the Communities in Bloom program in Canada.

•Community Champion

•YouTube Video

To date, more than 200 towns and cities from 41 states have participated in the program and more than 20 million people have been touched by it.

Awards will be announced on September 21 at AIB’s National Symposium and Awards, held this year in Orlando, Fla.