The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

September 27, 2012

AIB critique gives Tarboro key feedback

Editor and Publisher
John H. Walker

TARBORO — Tarboro’s America in Bloom (AIB) entry scored 461 out of a possible 1,000 points, according to the organization’s evaluation form and critique following the organization’s annual awards presentation over the weekend in Fayetteville, Ark.

Tarboro competed the 8,001 to 13,000 population category, which was won by Smithfield, Va. Smithfield, like Tarboro, was a first-time competitor in the program according to the AIB website.

Judges Jack Clasen and Billy Butterfield, who were in Tarboro in mid-June, evaluated the community in six areas — floral displays, landscaped areas, urban forestry, environmental efforts, heritage preservation and overall impression.

The first five categories each had a maximum potential of 175 points while the sixth had a maximum potential of 125. Tarboro’s scoring was as follows:

• Floral displays, 92 of 175

• Landscaped areas, 102 of 175

• Urban forestry, 66 of 175

• Environmental efforts, 43 of 175

• Heritage preservation, 93 of 175

• Overall impression, 65 of 125.

In their critique, judges Jack Clasen and Billy Butterfield noted that the recession has hit Tarboro hard, pointing out, “community spirit is high and people have a ‘can do’ attitude. The area has a lot going for it and with proper planning and vision Tarboro has a good future in the years ahead.”

The two judges also wrote: “The town has some gems that are very rare and exclusive to Tarboro: the Town Common, Calvary Episcopal Church and grounds, and the Cotton Press. The Blount-Bridgers House is also a well-maintained historic home …”

On the other side of the coin, Clasen and Butterfield wrote, “The leaders in Tarboro might consider more planning to improve downtown vitality, develop a formal tree program, and an integrated plan for developing Tarboro as a tourist destination. Possibly consider a historic homes garden tour, agri-tourism, or eco-tourism with the Tar River.”

Other suggestions included improving signage to direct tourists to historic sites, using the county extension service as much as possible to improve the landscape and urban forest and developing a smaller walking tour highlighting 10 to 15 homes along with the main sites.