The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


February 20, 2013

America In Bloom committee talks action steps

TARBORO — A public art project downtown and a spring recycling day were two ideas discussed by the America in Bloom committee at a meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Blount-Bridgers House.

The committee met to discuss action steps to prepare for the upcoming competition, scheduled for September in Jacksonville, Fla. This is the second year that Tarboro will enter the AIB competition.

AIB is a non-profit organization that promotes “nationwide beautification through education and community involvement.” Each AIB community is judged according to its population size, in six categories – landscaped areas, environmental efforts, urban forestry, heritage preservation, floral displays and overall impression. The art project would fall under the “overall impression” category.

“We’re trying to get public art into some of the vacant buildings,” said Joyce Turner, executive director of the Edgecombe County Cultural Arts Council. “We’re hoping this helps not only the community, but real estate sales itself.”

To Turner, Main Street Tarboro is “already pretty,” but seeing a lot of empty storefronts might detract potential businesses from coming to Tarboro, and from the AIB judges’ impression of the town, as well. She said the idea is that the mixed media, temporary art, which will hang in the empty storefront windows, will make the buildings’ appearance “a little more appealing.”

The art in each window will have a different theme, such as nature and sports – “anything that’s going to reflect the community itself,” said Turner. Her plan is to begin the project in March once she receives approval from the building owners, and she hopes to involve local students in the project.

A spring recycling day, which will help earn Tarboro points for “environmental efforts,” is set for 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on April 20 in the parking lot of Marrow Pitt Ace Hardware at 1713 N. Main St. The event will give community members an opportunity to recycle their old electronics, fluorescent tubes and bulbs, and paper documents free of charge.

“When we had the event in Tarboro last year, we shredded over 9,600 pounds of paper,” said Cornelia McGee-Anthony of Keep America Beautiful of Nash & Edgecombe Counties.   

Marrow Pitt will also host a Greenleaf Nurseries’ landscaping and planting workshop in March, with the date to be announced.

The AIB committee also discussed projects centering on the improvement of the town’s landscaped areas. Buddy Hooks, AIB committee co-chair, brought up the idea of having local clubs sponsor entrances into town and being responsible for the sprucing up of those areas.

“It’s an opportunity to involve the community,” Hooks said.

“One of the comments that the judges did make was that they would like to see every entrance into town,” said Connie Sherrill, co-chair of the AIB committee. She also discussed the courthouse square landscaping project and the Master Gardeners’ willingness to tackle the project.

Other areas of town where the AIB committee will focus its landscaping efforts are the back side of Thorne Realty (next to the Main Street roundabout), the M.A. Ray Center, and the chain link fence near the roundabout. The committee is also considering asking neighborhoods to adopt a town street or park and clean up that area to add to the judges’ overall impression of the town.

Urban forestry is an area in which the judges found Tarboro lacking in last year’s competition.

“We’re looking into becoming a Tree City USA participant, as well as pruning the trees downtown,” said Town Manager Alan Thornton. The Arbor Day Foundation sponsors the Tree City USA Program, which gives assistance, direction and recognition to urban and community forestry programs in thousands of American cities and towns. Thornton said he also plans to address the issue of trees prior to the judges’ arrival.

Tuesday’s meeting ended on a hopeful note.

“If we did any of these ideas we’re talking up today, we’re going to get some points from the judges,” said Hooks. “All of these are going to be very visible projects.”

Connie Sherrill, co-chair with Hooks, agreed that the proposed projects all address areas the judges will consider in the competition.

“We’re on the right track,” she said.

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