Bloom judges to arrive July 7

BELPRE – Judges from the America in Bloom national awards program will visit Belpre on July 7 and 8 to review beautification efforts and programs by the Belpre in Bloom program.

This is Belpre’s third entry in the America in Bloom national awards program, said Leslie Pittenger, Belpre auditor and chairman of Belpre in Bloom.

Belpre is one of 33 towns across America working on local revitalization programs with the hopes of receiving a prestigious America in Bloom national award. In the 4,500-10,000 population category, Belpre is competing against Brewton, Ala., Greendale, Ind., Catskill, N.Y., and Estes Park, Colo.

According to a press release from AIB, participating communities are evaluated in overall impression, heritage preservation, environmental efforts, urban forestry, landscapes, floral displays and community involvement. The judges evaluate these criteria in the residential, commercial and municipal sectors.

This year’s judges will be Sue Amatangelo and Susie Stratton.

Amatangelo is the director of “Home and Garden Showplace,” a division of True Value where she is in charge of 220 independent garden centers across the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. She is a plan commissioner for the city of St. Charles, Ill., and is the author of “Absolutely Beautiful Containers.”

Stratton and her husband are owners and operators of Stratton Greenhouses, a retail garden center, landscape and design operation and nursery serving the northwest Ohio region. She is the retail manager of the business as well as the landscape and design professional.

Pittenger said a luncheon will be held at noon July 7 at the Belpre Senior Center for Belpre in Bloom volunteers and others involved in the process to meet the judges before they begin the two-day process of reviewing Belpre’s program.

Over the past three years, Pittenger believes the Belpre in Bloom program has had a positive impact on the Belpre community, with people taking more care of their yards, planting gardens and other activities throughout the town.

“It’s been contagious,” she said of the changes and improvements.

“People are getting back pride in their neighborhoods and you can really see it,” Pittenger said.

As part of this year’s Belpre in Bloom activities, volunteers have been working on sidewalk and parking lot cleanups and improvements in the city’s parks, including a planned butterfly garden in Civitan Park.

Work is nearly complete on the installation of a fountain in the greenspace at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Putnam Howe Drive, she said.