There were numerous fingers in the dirt, as it were, that led to Taboro’s earning an additional bloom after the national America in Bloom (AIB) released the city's evaluation Monday for its 2013 awards.
Tarboro received three out of five “blooms” in the rating system for a total score of 712-of-1,000 possible points.
This year's result was in improvement over the two blooms and 461 points Tarboro received in 2012.
“We greatly improved this year. I’m very pleased with the way 2013 has gone,” Tarboro AIB co-chair Connie Sherrill said. “We hope that if we do this again we can continue to move up the ladder.”
Tarboro was up against two other towns – Demopolis, Ala. and Coshocton, Ohio – in its population category (7,001-12,000). Demopolis was the category winner despite the town having been hit by a severe storm two nights before judges arrived.
In their evaluation, AIB judges Ed Hooker III and James “Jim” Abraham lauded Tarboro for accomplishments the town has achieved in “just a short time.”
“The level of volunteerism and community spirit is outstanding, and the commitment to a wide range of community issues is amazing,” wrote the judges. “We experienced a community that has come together to ‘plant pride.’ ”
The Town of Tarboro was instrumental in helping the AIB committee prepare for the judges’ June visit, Sherrill said.
“We had so many good volunteers working with America in Bloom this year,” she said. “We just had a tremendous amount of help.”
Tarboro was judged on six categories. The town received a score of 121-of-175 in floral displays, 126-of-175 in landscaped areas, 131-of-175 in urban forestry, 109-of-175 in environmental efforts, 129-of-175 in heritage preservation, and 96-of-125 for overall impression.
Tarboro received honorable mentions for environmental efforts, mainly those at the charter school, North East Carolina Prep, and for heritage preservation, primarily because of the initiative to create a “Rural Heritage District to protect open farmland, plantation complexes and intact outbuildings from encroachment and unsympathetic development.”
The awards were announced at a weekend program in Orlando, Fla., attended by Sherrill and fellow AIB committee members – Linda Goines, Bob and Pauline Nicolosi, and Candis Owens. The members went behind the scenes of Epcot, attended the Florida Landscape Show, and visited the town of Winter Park. Sherrill said Winter Park has a fully-restored theater similar to Tarboro’s Colonial Theater, which is undergoing restoration.
“This was a look at one that has been restored and is used a lot,” said Sherrill. “You can see that this (restoration) can become a reality.”
The Colonial Theatre is one of the Tarboro venues that AIB judges visited, in the category of heritage preservation. Seeing some of the projects that have been successful in other towns “inspires you to want to do more,” Sherrill said.
“It (AIB) is not about what you can win so much as making the town a better place,” she said.
Tarboro will not participate in the AIB competition next year because of the Garden Symposium, scheduled for May 10, 2014. The AIB committee will continue to meet and decide whether to participate in 2015.
“That gives us a little more time to work on projects,” Sherrill said.
The AIB committee plans to continue to work on projects that have already begun and build upon judges’ recommendations.