By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
The American in Bloom (AIB) committee is asking Tarboro residents to clean up their yards Saturday to prepare for the judges’ visit to town June 17 and 18.
“We’re just encouraging everyone to take this opportunity to clean up their yard so that when the judges come, they will get a positive impression of the town,” said Connie Sherrill, AIB committee co-chair.
AIB is a non-profit organization with the mission of promoting nationwide beautification through education and community involvement. This is the second year Tarboro has competed in AIB.
“It’s not just a competition; it’s an opportunity to make this town a better place to live and work,” Sherrill said.
On Saturday, the local AIB committee asks residents to mow and rake their yards, discard trash and recycle items that can be recycled, return trash cans to an alley or out-of-sight location, donate or tow unwanted and discarded cars, and plant flowers or vegetables to beautify their yard. Sherrill encourages able-bodied residents to help elderly residents tend to their yards, as well.
“Just get out and clean up,” Sherrill said. “If you see litter laying around in town somewhere, stop and pick it up.”
Buddy Hooks, AIB committee co-chair equated tidying up one’s yard for the visitors to a child cleaning up his room for company. His hope is that the one-day clean up will translate into a culture of community pride.
“It’s not all about the flowers and the beauty; it’s about instilling that community pride. You want people to love their town so much they want to make sure it looks good all the time,” Hooks said. Sherrill echoed Hooks’ thoughts.
“You never know when somebody’s going to be coming into town, thinking, ‘Do I want to move here?’ so you want it to look neat and inviting,” she said.
If Tarboro wins the AIB competition in its population category, Hooks wants the residents to feel a sense of “ownership” in that accomplishment. Tarboro is competing against Demopolis, Ala. and Coshocton, Ohio in the 7,001 to 12,000 population category.
While the AIB committee is asking for the community’s help, they have done their part to prepare for the judges’ visit. Two of the committee’s major projects involved the planting of flowers and weeding of the traffic circle on North Main Street and the weeding and planting of flowers at the Edgecombe County Courthouse Square.
One of the AIB judges, James Abraham, has a particular interest in gardening.
“I very much look forward to visiting Tarboro and seeing all of the beautiful general landscape and plantings. As a lifelong gardener, I certainly appreciate the hard work that is required to create quality landscapes,” Abrams said.
Hooks believes both judges’ interest in historic preservation will enhance Tarboro’s chances of winning the competition. Abraham has spent 35 years in the historic preservation profession, and Ed Hooker is the historic architect for Fort Riley, Kan.
“I’m excited to tour the largest official historic district in North Carolina, and hear how the community has woven history, arts and entertainment and recreation seamlessly in a way that allows Tarboro’s residents to live, work and play throughout diverse historic neighborhoods,” Hooker said.
An outcome that Hooks would like to see from the AIB competition is the attraction of new residents and business and industry to Tarboro.
“We hope the recognition that we get from it is going to bring some renewed interest in economic growth,” he said.
Tarboro is one of 28 communities nationwide working on community revitalization programs with the goal of receiving an AIB award. Awards will be announced on Sept. 21 at AIB’s national symposium in Orlando, Fla.