America In Bloom

Chairwoman Ellen Hearn talks about Decatur's Celebration of Blooms to announce the America in Bloom competition last year.

DECATUR — Residents getting ready for the final America In Bloom countdown, and organizers are encouraging the community to finish up landscaping and upkeep of their businesses and lawns.

Judges for the national awards program will tour Decatur July 19 and 20. The local team has been named Decatur's Celebration of Blooms.

Decatur chairwoman Ellen Hearn said the time is now to tidy up those last-minute details.

“Mow the lawn and trim weeds, make certain curbs are free of weeds, pick up litter on your property and elsewhere along your road, and add a pot of fresh flowers to add some color to your landscaping,” she said.

The judges will be evaluating more than 40 cities on six criteria: floral displays, landscaping, urban forestry, environmental efforts, historical preservation, overall appearance and community vitality.

Decatur, with a population of 72,000, is competing against communities in the population category of 25,000 to 75,000. Other cities in the same category include Athens, Ohio, Mansfield, Ohio, and West Chicago, which is also new to the competition.

“It celebrates quality of life in communities of all types and provides a framework for further progress,” American in Bloom says on its website. “AIB celebrates and recognizes the great things our participants are doing to "plant pride" in America.”

The winners will be announced at the AIB Symposium Sept. 27 to 29 in Lexington, Ky. The competition awards communities through recognition and a bloom rating. According to Hearn, the maximum bloom rating is 5.

“On our first year, based upon the stiff competition, we are hoping to achieve a bloom rating of 3,” she said. “If we win the population category, we will receive a recognition plaque.”

Hearn and others on Decatur's Celebration of Blooms committee say Decatur has already won as a community.

“We have gained more beautification by working together and focusing on a goal,” Hearn said. “People are now asking, what more can I do to make a positive difference. That is the mindset that truly is needed to achieve more.”

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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR


"Together Decatur" Columnist and Food and Drink Reporter

“Together Decatur” columnist and food and drink reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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