National judges with the America In Bloom program will tour Washington July 18-19.
The competition evaluates the city in six categories, including floral displays, landscaped areas, urban forestry, environmental efforts, heritage preservation and overall impression.
Additionally, cities are judged on their community involvement across municipal, residential and commercial sectors.
Co-chairs for Washington In Bloom are Sally Bocklage and Dave Wehmeyer.
This year’s judges are Jack Clasen, Raleigh, N.C., and Leslie Pittenger, Belpre, Ohio. Pittenger has judged the city before.
Judges’ biographies are below.
Clasen earned a Ph.D. in community health from Indiana University in 1977.He brings a varied background to America In Bloom as a college professor, business owner, community volunteer and accomplished gardener.
As a Master Gardener, he co-founded the local beautification committee in his Ohio suburb. He also served as a member of the comprehensive plan committee, tree committee, and founded the annual “Art in the Garden” tour.
Clasen chaired his town’s participation in America In Bloom in 2005 and 2006.
He has been a judge with America In Bloom since 2002, having judged more than 75 communities in four countries.
He recruits new judges and coordinates the National Awards Program.
Although her “official” position is city auditor for Belpre, Ohio, Pittenger’s passion for the improvement of her area has inspired community volunteers.
Belpre received the 2013 and 2014 Outstanding Achievement Award for Community Involvement sponsored by the American Horticultural Society under her leadership as local AIB committee chairwoman.
As an active member of the Belpre Garden Club and Belpre High School Greenhouse boosters, she works with local students to complete environmental and beautification projects.
Currently serving her second term as auditor, her department has received the Ohio Auditor of State award for exemplary financial reporting the last three years. She has completed the Ohio Tree Commission Academy course and has a commercial applicator license for pesticides through the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Pittenger is the co-editor of the “Best Ideas” annual edition in 2014 and 2015.
She serves on the board of directors for the Belpre Alumnae Association and the Belpre Area Community Development Foundation. She graduated from the University of Georgia, and was a business owner for 10 years.