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AIB judges love Brewton

The city of Brewton was on the center stage this past week. Judges from the national awards program America in Bloom (AIB) were in town from June 12 to June 15. AIB assesses cities nationwide based on seven categories: flowers, landscaped areas, urban forestry, environmental efforts, celebrating heritage, community vitality and overall impression. The cities compete against each other in each category regardless of population, but each city is also judged against cities in its population category for best score.

AIB sends a team of two specially trained judges to tour the city. This year’s judges were Leslie Pittenger and Cindy Brown. The judges were given tours all through the town. The City of Brewton’s Director of Program Management Connie Baggett led the judges through a few of Brewton’s nature parks including Alco and Jennings. The judges also toured downtown, the Pitcher Plant Bog, the City Hall and several other areas that represent the heart of Brewton.

The judges also met with several of Brewton’s movers and shakers such as Mayor Yank Lovelace, Brewton’s Public Lands Manager Steve Layton, and a number of members from both of Brewton’s garden clubs, to name a few.

AIB judge Pittenger gave a presentation to garden club members about how AIB works, the benefits of the program and, of course, all of their favorite parts of Brewton. Pittenger announced that there are 10 secret awards communities will be competing for that only the judges know about. She said that there are a few of those secret awards that she plans to nominate Brewton for. Pittenger said she was completely blown away by Brewton’s nature parks.

“E.O Wilson park is in the middle of town, but you wouldn’t know it,” Pittenger said. “It’s like you are in the middle of the Alabama forrest. I saw so many plants up close and personal– absolutely beautiful.”

Pittenger said Brewton is great in the community vitality category. Brewton won the community vitality award at last year’s AIB competition. This category tests how communities encourage their residents to get outdoors and spend time together as a community. Pittenger said Brewton is the first town with one of the smaller populations that she has seen with as many events and annual festivals as this town does.

AIB judge Brown said she loves how historic the town is. Brown also enjoyed the many hanging baskets of flowers Brewton has on its bridges and streets.

“A lot of communities have that but most aren’t maintained like Brewton is,” Brown said. “In a community like this, it’s hard to think of ways to enhance it.”

Once the judges leave, they begin writing their individual evaluations of the city. These evaluations are later given to the City of Brewton. The evaluations are helpful for the community because they also double as road maps for future projects and improvements.

Brewton residents won’t know how well their town performed against the other 40 communities until sometime in the fall. Until then, keep your fingers crossed!