BELPRE - Plans are already in the works for the second year of the Belpre in Bloom community beautification project as the first year winds to a close.
"Our best idea for the project was joining America in Bloom," said Belpre in Bloom coordinator Leslie Pittenger. "It was a lot of hard work, but well worth it; we did very well this first year."
The community volunteer effort began late last year and has included large and small projects that include 37 concrete planters, flower beds and hanging baskets throughout the city, the five entrances into Belpre beautified, streetscape flags along Washington Boulevard and a community garden.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Jon Neff with Bob’s Market and Greenhouse takes dead flowers off dahlia plants around the fountain between Putnam Howe Drive and Washington Boulevard in May as he volunteers for the Belpre in Bloom project.
"The man hours put into Belpre in Bloom went into the thousands," Pittenger said. "With all of the volunteers involved, the hours added up quickly."
As many as 40 volunteers included not only the 10 Belpre in Bloom board members, but also master gardeners, individuals from community organizations such as the Belpre Lions Club, the Belpre Woman's Club as well as youth groups from Boy Scouts to basketball teams.
"There was a lot to do after the planting that you don't even consider when planning something like this," Pittenger said. "Things such as watering and weeding that just take a lot of time and you barely think of them when starting a project."
Although the weeding and watering of areas continues, this first year of Belpre in Bloom finished with the June visit by two master gardeners and judges from the umbrella program America in Bloom. Belpre will go up against 24 other communities in 16 states for the America in Bloom Educational Symposium and Awards in Fayetteville, Ark., next month.
"Those two judges (Alex Pearl and Dwight Lund) were here to look at things we see every day and offer ideas on things we can improve on and do next year," Pittenger said.
One of those items the local group has already decided to spend more time on in the coming year is the environmental effort of the project that looks into sustainable development and awareness.
The local effort promotes recycling, doggie waste bag stations in Civitan and Depot parks and other environmentally protective measures.
"Belpre in Bloom also promotes recycling by using newspaper as a weed barrier when appropriate," Pittenger said.
For next year, this conservation effort will include rain barrels in landscape designs as well as plant exchanges for supplement bulbs needed for projects.
"There are things we plan to keep and others we look to add in the near future," Pittenger said.
The project cost the city very little out of pocket as the majority of the work has been done by volunteers and materials needed have been purchased through grant funds and money raised through various efforts by the Belpre in Bloom board.
"Belpre in Bloom received a $21,000 Gateway grant through the Ohio Department of Transportation for materials in the city entrance projects," Pittenger said. "People keep commenting to me about how much money those must have cost and they didn't cost the city anything."
Other fundraisers will continued next year that include sponsorships of planted baskets in the parks and flags along Washington Boulevard as well as the luminaria sales around Christmastime and plant sales in the spring.
"We have a lot of ideas on the table for the coming year," Pittenger said.