By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Tarboro’s America in Bloom (AIB) steering committee is gearing up for the AIB judges’ visit to town next month. AIB is a national non-profit organization that promotes “beautification through education and community involvement.”
“Please join us as Tarboro prepares for the visit of national AIB judges on June 17 and 18,” said AIB co-chair Connie Sherrill in a competition planning update. “Help us bring out the beauty of our exceptional town.”
The judges will critique Tarboro using 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. The committee has learned the areas in which improvement is needed from last year’s competition and is addressing those areas, said Buddy Hooks, AIB co-chair.
“We’re much more organized. We started earlier. We’ve got a very strong, very capable committee,” said Hooks. He noted that the Town of Tarboro is a partner in the preparations for the upcoming competition.
“The town has been so hands-on this year. We’ve got their input and their resources, as well,” said Hooks.
To Tarboro’s AIB steering committee, AIB is more than a competition.
“It is an opportunity to make improvements with a lasting impression that communicate Tarboro is a great place to live and work,” said Sherrill, in her update.
“Community pride is the thing,” said Hooks. “I’m hoping we’ll improve on that each year (of the competition.)”
The community has an opportunity to improve judges’ impressions of the town by participating in a town-wide cleanup day on Saturday, June 8. Residents, church groups and other community groups are encouraged to clean up litter around town. Property owners are encouraged to mow their lawns, weed and mulch landscape beds, and remove dead shrubs and tree stumps.
“Every individual homeowner/ resident can make a difference,” Hooks said.
In the meantime, the AIB steering committee will be doing its part to prepare the town for the judges’ arrival. An area of the competition in which Hooks believes Tarboro will shine is historic preservation.
“The judges that are coming are very much in the business of historic preservation and architecture,” Hooks said. “I think we’ll raise some eyebrows there, because we’ve got the preservation school out at the college (Edgecombe Community College) and it’s one of very few in the United States.” The historic preservation trades program is the only one of its kind offered at a community college in North Carolina.
In the category of landscaped areas, the AIB steering committee is focusing its efforts on the traffic circle on North Main Street. The Edgecombe County Master Gardeners, in cooperation with the Town of Tarboro consulted with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to plan and implement the project. Adorning the traffic circle are a Chinese Fringe tree and dianthus plants.
Other projects at the town’s entrance at the Tar River Bridge are in progress, among them the planting of Carolina jasmine along the chain link fence beside the Quigless Clinic and the installation of a flagpole and additional benches on the opposite side of the bridge by the Town of Tarboro. Thorne Realty, located next to the traffic circle, also has committed to building a fence to camouflage their waste containers.
The addition of a new entrance sign designating Tarboro’s Industrial Park is yet another project designed to spruce up the town’s appearance. Indian Lake Park also has new signage. Another addition in town is the construction of a new arbor at the entrance of the Blount-Bridgers garden in the historic district. The historic preservation school at Edgecombe Community College had restored the garden benches to further enhance the appearance of the historic grounds.
The Master Gardener volunteers are tackling another project in town – giving the courthouse square a “facelift.” The project is underway but will likely take two to three years to complete. The Master Gardener volunteers are partnering with Edgecombe Garden Club members to revitalize the community herb garden at the west end of the town common.
A project that the committee hopes will improve the judges’ overall impression of the town is a Main Street art project spearheaded by the Edgecombe County Cultural Arts Council. Local students are designing matisse-inspired art panels that will be installed in the windows of vacant storefronts downtown.