Eureka takes top honors in America in Bloom judging

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Eureka Springs - Eureka Springs was judged best in the nation among cities under 5,000 population at the fifth annual America in Bloom competition, which was concluded here Saturday evening.

AIB, which is dedicated to promoting nationwide beautification programs in urban areas, cited Eureka Springs for its community involvement in announcing the award. Eureka competed with nine other cities from New York to Oregon in this year's friendly competition. Earlier in the week, Eureka Springs was proclaimed winner of the worldwide preservation award. It was the second consecutive year Eureka claimed the honor since the city began participating in the annual AIB contest in 2004.

Approximately 200 AIB officials, judges and representatives of cities from across the country attended the awards ceremony at the Inn of the Ozarks Convention Center which completed the three-day symposium. Earlier in the evening, Eureka Springs Mayor Kathy Harrison presented the chairman of the AIB board the key to the city.

AIB leaders were unstinting in expressing gratitude for the warm welcome and generous hospitality extended by Eureka Springs.

Laura Kunkle, executive director of AIB, singled out Lynn Berry, executive director of the City Advertising and Promotion Commission, and Georgette Garner, who together chaired Eureka's planning and organization for the event. "Their commitment, time and effort are commendable. Haven't we had a great time here!"

"It would be impossible to single out any one individual or group who was most helpful or responsible in helping us get this award," said Berry. "It was a total commitment by the whole community."

For Garner, who was inspired by the late Carl A. Totemeier of the Botanical Garden Society of the Ozarks, to seek Eureka participation in AIB, the recognition culminated three years of work and planning.

"It doesn't seem like work," she explained, " when you are teaming with so many dedicated and talented individuals in a goal to enhance the beauty of your area and improve the quality of life for all citizens. While we didn't win the top honor in our first two attempts, I never felt we had lost. Our community was a better place to live because of our efforts. It is also great to know that we are now eligible to enter the international competition."

Fayetteville was declared the winner of the over 50,000 population category with particular recognition for its tidiness efforts. AIB judged the business and residential areas and the University of Arkansas campus as "essentially litter free."

Judging of all cities focussed on eight categories: floral displays, tidiness, landscaped areas, urban forestry, heritage, community involvement, turf and groundcovers and environmental efforts. Rockford Illinois will host the 2007 symposium, Sept. 27 - 29.

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