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September 23, 2013

Tarboro improves in AIB competition

TARBORO — Tarboro earned three blooms in this year’s America in Bloom competition, up from two last year. The town also received special mention for environmental efforts.

“We were up the most of any entry (town) they’ve ever had in one year. That was really great,” said Candis Owens, member of Tarboro’s AIB committee.

The awards were announced Sunday at the annual awards program in Orlando, Fla. Owens attended the program, along with Connie Sherrill, Tarboro’s AIB co-chair, Linda Goines, and Bob and Pauline Nicolosi. Tarboro competed in the 7,001 to 12,000-population category, along with Demopolis, Ala. and Coshocton, Ohio.

“America in Bloom is helping participants of all types achieve their potential. The accomplishments and progress shown by this year's towns and cities is remarkable,” said AIB executive director Laura Kunkle.

AIB is a non-profit organization with the mission of “promoting nationwide beautification programs and personal and community involvement through the use of flowers, plants, trees, and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements.”

“The premise behind this is when your town has eye appeal due to beautification, it provides an impetus for economic development,” Owens said.

Tarboro was judged on six criteria: overall impression, environmental awareness, heritage, urban forestry, landscape, and floral displays, across four sectors: municipal, residential, commercial, and community involvement.

Tarboro had also applied for two awards: a community champion award, for which Owens was nominated, and a criteria (outstanding achievement) award for heritage preservation. The town did not receive the awards. Owens said while that news was initially disappointing, the competition was a great learning experience.

AIB judges Ed Hooker III and Jim Abraham spent two days in June touring Tarboro. AIB reported that Hooker and Abraham were “very impressed” with Tarboro’s environmental efforts, particularly at the public charter school – North East Carolina Prep School.

“School founders repurposed an abandoned facility for initial classes, and new facilities are being constructed to LEED standards,” the judges commented. “A greenhouse onsite will provide a space for the children to grow plants for sale, and gardens will provide a food source for the cafeteria. An on-site working farm will allow children to explore and learn about caring for animals. Children will be actively involved in campus beautification projects. Last year, approximately 2,000 daffodil and tulip bulbs were donated by the Keep America Beautiful Program and planted throughout the 52-acre campus.  Rain gardens have been installed to address parking lot run-off…”

Owens said she believes the charter school and three other major factors contributed to Tarboro’s success in the AIB competition: the participation of the town in the competition, the historic preservation school at Edgecombe Community College and the wetlands trail, also at the college.

Owens called the visit to Orlando the “trip of a lifetime” and said the group that went gleaned ideas for future beautification of Tarboro. A couple of the ideas provided by AIB were using tropical plants in the pods in front of the stores on Main Street and beautifying the alley across from Simmons Furniture Store on Main Street.

 

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