The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

September 19, 2013

America in Bloom delegation headed to national awards meeting


TARBORO — Tarboro’s America in Bloom (AIB) delegation is headed to Orlando today for the national awards meeting. AIB is an awards program that provides a framework for improving “overall quality of life” in towns across America.

AIB judges James Abraham and Ed Hooker visited Tarboro in June, and at the end of this weekend’s awards meeting, the town will find out where it stands among its population peers (7,001-12,000) in the country who also filed to compete: Coshocton, Ohio, and Demopolis, Ala.

“Regardless of how it turns out, it’s been great for the town,” said Connie Sherrill, AIB co-chair. “It makes people think about how the town looks and how it presents itself to the public and ways to improve the town, so that’s definitely been a good thing for Tarboro.”

Tarboro, along with the other towns in the AIB competition, will receive a “bloom rating” based on six criteria: floral displays, landscaped areas, urban forestry, environmental effort, heritage preservation and overall impression. This is the second year that Tarboro has entered the AIB competition, and Candis Owens, AIB committee member, said she is confident that Tarboro will receive a “much better rating” this year because of knowing more about what the judges are looking for.

Owens has been nominated for the AIB community champion award. That award recognizes “an individual who exemplifies community leadership and demonstrates vision and selfless commitment to moving the community forward.”

Tarboro has also entered the competition for a criteria (outstanding achievement) award in heritage preservation.

“Tarboro does have a lot of history, so it seemed an appropriate choice,” Sherrill said.

Tarboro’s heritage preservation criteria award application states, “History defines Tarboro.”

The application highlights Tarboro’s Town Common, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and several other historic venues in town, among them Main Street, the Calvary Episcopal Churchyard, and the 1909 W.A. Hart House.

“Tarboro envisions its longstanding dedication to historic preservation and its emerging initiatives in heritage tourism as a key to its future,” states the application. “It welcomes new  residents from throughout the nation to live in a beautiful small town and greets  visitors who will enjoy its lifestyle and historic resources.”

Owens said she believes Tarboro stand a “very good chance” of winning the criteria award.

“I’m just really hoping we’ll bring that home and if we do, we’ll get national recognition,” she said.

Whether Tarboro fares well in the AIB competition has yet to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: AIB has been the impetus for long-lasting projects in town, said Sherrill.

“The traffic circle is absolutely beautiful and the courthouse square is coming along,” she said.

The Master Gardeners were partners in those projects.