America in Bloom to visit Ironton

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Two judges from America In Bloom, the umbrella organization of downtown beautification group Ironton In Bloom, will be in town next Monday and Tuesday, June 20 and 21, to critique Ironton on six criteria and see how the city is running overall.

This year marks the third time America In Bloom has made a visit to Ironton since Ironton In Bloom was started in 2008; once during the first year in 2008 and again in 2010.

The six areas that will be judged include floral display, landscape, urban trees, environmental concerns, heritage and first impressions.

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“Back in 2008, our first year, there were eight criteria instead of six, but we didn’t highlight most of the areas. We were trying to get started with a lot of disbelief,” Carol Allen, Ironton In Bloom president, said. “In 2010, we wanted to follow up and we asked them back because we knew what they were looking for. We made a real impact on the community. Our urban trees were the worst area, but we worked on that and other areas. We still had a score of 3 in 2010, but we were moving up and making progress.”

Allen said each time America In Bloom comes to judge the city, it costs the city $1,000, based on population, but through the information gained through the America In Bloom assessments, the group is able to use that to apply for grants through the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization (CAO).

The group suggested small pocket parks as a way to improve the city’s appearance and standing. Just some of the parks throughout the city that will be shown to America In Bloom include the community garden, the spray park with gazebo and the pocket park between Christ Episcopal Church and the Lawrence County Jail.

Allen said that urban trees downtown are an area that the group has worked particularly hard on.

“We’ve really been working at keeping the trees higher, so anyone can walk under them with an umbrella,” she said.

The judges will be taken on multiple tours of the city, highlighting different areas including downtown, the cemetery, the Ninth Street Gateway project, the baseball and soccer fields and schools.

Allen said the tours will cover all of the one way streets and residents can help the cause by cleaning up their yards, having the lawn mowed and keeping trees and bushes trimmed if possible. She added that it was important to keep trees trimmed around street signs that may happen to be on one’s property.

Along with judging the city’s appearance, America In Bloom also tours the city’s plants and critiques how the city works as a whole.

Also on Tuesday evening, a collaborative effort between Ironton In Bloom, the Friends of Ironton, Ironton aLive, the Bicentennial Committee, CAO and community churches are hosting a large community party, “Celebrate Ironton!” in the spray park parking lot.

“This party piggybacks the Glockner Tuesday evening outdoor musical concert at the farmers market,” Allen said. “There will be free hot dogs, chips, ice cream, popcorn, soft drinks, water and s’mores made over a bonfire later in the evening.”

The spray park will also be open until 9 p.m. Tuesday evening.