America In Bloom names Demopolis best in nation

A three-year march toward aesthetic improvement reached a new milestone Saturday night when America In Bloom named Demopolis the national winner in its population category.

America In Bloom announced the award Saturday night at it annual banquet in Orlanda, Fla., bestowing upon the City of the People a best blooming city designation for the 7,001-12,000 population category.

Demopolis received an overall Bloom Rating of four out of a possible five. The scoring is broken down into six categories that add up to a total of 1,000 possible points. Overall, Demopolis scored 791 points.

The city’s strongest category performance came in Floral Displays, an area where Demopolis netted 144 of 175 possible points. The city also performed exceptionally well in Environmental Efforts and Landscaped areas, scoring 143 of 175 in the former category and 142 of 175 in the latter.

Demopolis scored 135 of 175 in Heritage Preservation, 116 of 175 in Urban Forestry and 111 of 125 in Overall Impression.

Included among the comments offered to the Demopolis In Bloom team by the America In Bloom judges was the praising of the city’s volunteer efforts.

“The level of partnership between city organizations and volunteer efforts in Demopolis is outstanding, and the commitment to a successful floral display and landscape program is amazing,” Demopolis’ AIB evaluation read. “You set lofty goals, establish committees with the right stakeholders, and then successfully implement programs that benefit the City of Demopolis and the region. We experienced a community that has come together to ‘plant pride.’”

With no representatives from Demopolis present at the ceremony, news of the city’s latest distinction came via social media.

“I found out late Saturday evening while watching the Alabama game. I had been watching Facebook because America In Bloom would post on Facebook what they were doing. My daughter called me because it was Saturday evening, I had been watching and we had not received any kind of award whatsoever. I was so disappointed,” Barbara Blevins, city horticulturist, said. “I know that as a team and as a group and as a city, we have really come a long way in the past six years. I just couldn’t believe that we didn’t get anything.”

After Blevins stopped following America In Bloom’s Facebook feed and turned her attention to the Alabama football team’s win over Colorado State, a call from her daughter revealed that Blevins’ team of workers and volunteers had done enough to earn one of the AIB’s highest distinctions.

“I was so thankful. I got on the phone right away and started calling everyone. I called Jen (Tate) from the Chamber and thanked her. I called Mike Baker of Public Works. I tried to touch base with all of our volunteers and everyone that has helped,” Blevins said. “I know I haven’t reached everybody that has helped.”

Those involved with Demopolis’ progress over the last three years will have an opportunity to celebrate Oct. 24 during a Chamber of Commerce after hours event in which all of the Demopolis In Bloom award winners and Chamber of Commerce Pride award winners from the last three years will be honored.

“I think that’s what we need for the city, to let people know that we really, really appreciate everything that they do,” Blevins said.

After Demopolis’ first America In Bloom award, Blevins and her crew will now turn their attention toward repeating the feat next year.

“I think we can get a five bloom and we’re a four bloom now,” Blevins said. “We’ve still got some work to do in some of the areas, but as long as everybody works together, we will make it.”