City of Brewton wins America in Bloom community vitality award
America In Bloom judges each city in the national competition based on Flowers, Landscaped Areas, Urban Forestry, Environmental Efforts, Celebrating Heritage, Community Vitality, and Overall Impression. Each city gets one award based on its best asset, the cities compete against each other in each category regardless of population. This is the toughest part of the competition. Each city is also judged against cities in its population category for best score. Brewton brought home special recognition individually for community vitality, and went on to win that category overall. Community vitality is policies, programs and outdoor activities and facilities that lead to a vibrant community and a sense of well-being. This includes parks, playgrounds, dog parks, sports fields, water activities, trails and other outdoor recreational activities.
“Winning an award where we were judged head to head with much larger cities across the country like Lexington and Arroyo Grande, California, was extremely gratifying,” said Mayor Yank Lovelace. “This was my first trip to the symposium, and it was packed with classes and tours that help show us the best way to do everything from floral design to community involvement and volunteerism. Community vitality is something we all contribute to here, and I think judges saw that and appreciated how we all pull together. I congratulate not only the team of city workers who make it all happen, but to leaders throughout our community that make this a special place.”
All city departments are involved in the process, from street improvements, flowers, parks, library events, utilities and cultural/heritage preservation. It’s not just about what the city is doing, but also what groups and organizations working together can achieve. Public Works Director Craig Jerkins and his team are key to many of the judged criteria, but so are garden clubs, groups like Drive Time, people who attend concerts, paint barrels, plan the many 5K runs and even vendors at the weekly farmers’ market.
“Judges were very impressed with all we do as a community,” said Connie Baggett, director of program management for the city and the local AIB coordinator. “The evaluation put it best, ‘Brewton’s citizens clearly love their community and enjoy celebrating it together in a multitude of ways. The city has coordinated new events to engage every segment of the community. More than a dozen new annual festivals and free monthly concerts are on the calendar. Several new local events were launched this year: a ‘Mud Run’ through three parks and Burnt Corn Creek, a community cleanup day called ‘Dash for Trash & Cash’, and two fishing rodeos at E.O. Wilson Nature Adventure Park, all of which were very successful.’” And the next year’s plan to improve all that Brewton offers is already taking shape.
“The evaluation showed us what we are doing right, and what we need to do better,” Baggett said, “like protecting historical buildings and our heritage trees. Residents will see our ongoing progress from paving to trail improvements and there will be plenty of opportunities for volunteers to get involved. It’s work, but it is a lot of fun too. “We received a score of 330/486 or 67.9 percent. Very respectable! That translated into 7 out of 10 stars.”