The city’s second year of participation in America in Bloom proved to be successful as Washington was named a “four bloom” community and received a special mention for its efforts in heritage preservation.
Results for the national awards program were announced at the annual symposium in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Sept. 22.
Fifteen representatives from Washington attended the symposium, the largest contingent from any city other than the host city, noted Sally Bocklage, co-chair of the Washington in Bloom program.
“I think we have a lot to be proud of,” said Dave Wehmeyer, co-chair of the WIB committee. “We’re so fortunate to live in Washington. We’re doing everything right.”
Mayor Sandy Lucy, who was unable to attend the symposium, said she’s proud of what Washington has accomplished.
“I’m the luckiest mayor in the world,” she said. “I get the opportunity to meet people who are visiting and they always say how clean and pretty our community is. America in Bloom plays a role in that.”
Wehmeyer noted there was a restructuring within the competition this year, which made it more difficult to receive a high bloom rating. He was told ratings may even go down this year.
Washington received a three bloom rating last year.
“Receiving a four this year is significant. It is a major accomplishment,” Bocklage said.
A total of 27 communities nationwide competed. Communities were split up by population, which also changed this year.
Last year, Washington competed in a 10,000 to 15,000 category. This year, Washington competed in the population category of 13,001 to 25,000.
Other cities in the category included Arroyo Grande and Artesia, both in California; Madisonville, Ky.; and Holliston, Mass.
“We were up against some major competition,” Bocklage said. “We are so happy that we bumped up our score significantly.”
Each community was required to create a community profile book, highlighting municipal information and a summary of the town’s achievements.
Bocklage said judges were so impressed by the book that they brought it to the Philadelphia flower show for exhibit.
During the symposium, Bocklage had 10 minutes to talk about Washington to the national judges.
“That’s when you get to know the people in your population category,” Bocklage said. During the symposium, participants also were able to listen to speakers, attend workshops and the awards banquet.
Each city was judged on seven criteria, including overall impression, community involvement, environmental awareness, heritage, urban forestry, landscape and floral displays.
Categories were judged across three sectors — municipal, residential and commercial.
America in Bloom judges visited Washington this past July.
The judges, Evelyn Alemanni and Barbara Vincentsen, congratulated Washington, saying the city has come a long way and has made “amazing progress in an already wonderful city.”
“This year’s addition of strategic plans, updates to the city’s comprehensive plan, updates to many city ordinances, and the development of parks maintenance standards demonstrates that the city has a vision of excellence for the years to come,” the judges said in a press release.
“Each year, AIB cities raise the bar in their many efforts and projects,” the judge stated. “This year is no exception and you are certainly among the leaders.”
Additionally, in a letter delivered to city hall, both judges noted how special Washington is.
“It was a privilege for me to return after 12 months and experience all your progress and accomplishments,” Alemanni said.
Vincentsen said Washington is “very special.”
“Clearly, you love your town and enjoy sharing it with others,” she stated.
One goal for next year is to add more color to the community through floral displays, which seemed to be the strongest suggestion from judges.
The committee will have a better idea of what else to improve on once judges’ comments are received in the next several weeks.
Additionally, Wehmeyer said a major goal is to make sure the city looks outstanding for Washington’s 175th anniversary in 2014.
The Washington Garden Club also will turn 75 in 2014, Bocklage said.
This is the 12th year for America in Bloom in the United States.