‘America in Bloom’ judges take good look at city of Ironton

Published 9:35 am Friday, July 2, 2010

Now comes the hard part — the wait. The judges for America in Bloom came, saw and confabbed about all that is Ironton as the city’s version of the national organization played host for the past two days.

But it won’t be until October for members of Ironton in Bloom to find out how the city rated. Two years ago Ironton competed nationally and got a national first place for floral display.

It was a whirlwind day and a half for national judges Darlene Blake and Darrell Trout as they had a walking tour Wednesday of downtown Ironton. Then on Thursday they viewed the infrastructure of the city and those pieces of land that have to be environmentally restored before they can be utilized such as the site of the former Lawrence County General Hospital.

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The visit ended with a luncheon at the historic First Presbyterian Church in Ironton with guests from the Rotary Club, the Boy Scouts and the media. Luncheon was prepared by the women of the church.

“The purpose of this is to let you know of the role our organizations and religion play in the life of Ironton and the role our heritage plays in our life,” Carol Allen, co-chairwoman of IIB, told the visitors.

After a tour of the landmark church, the judges gave the local organization a brief synopsis of their findings and suggestions for improvement.

“It takes a little time to synthesize everything,” Trout said. “The absolute positives that you are doing are incredible jobs in so many areas. There are more projects, not just on paper, but things are going ahead, going forward. That will save dollars and those dollars will go into other projects. I’ve seen what you have done and you can get things done.”

Judges said they would like to see more downtown businesses participating in Ironton in Bloom floral projects.

“You can always get more buy-ins,” Trout said.

Blake said the downtown Depot project will provide Ironton with a tangible identification in the Tri-State, especially with the streetscape aspect which provides a cohesiveness to the area.

“But you need a hotel,” Blake said.

In lieu of that the judges suggested high-end bed and breakfast lodgings or a riverboat hotel to take advantage of the scenic Ohio River.

“You have a good core of restaurants downtown,” Trout said.

Award winners will be named at AIB’s symposium in St. Louis on Oct. 2.