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Editorial: Beautification effort a big plus for Huntington

Feb. 23, 2013 @ 11:41 PM

Three springs ago, a group of volunteers reminded us that a little touch of color can make all the difference.

The non-profit Huntington Beautification Project put together 118 hanging flower baskets, and working with the city, added them to light poles on 3rd and 4th avenues. Almost overnight, the pink petunias began to brighten up the streetscape and create a more inviting feel for downtown.

Thanks to the tireless work of volunteers, the planter project has continued to grow, but now organizers have an even bigger idea. They are ready for the city to participate in the national America in Bloom program, which nurtures beautification efforts in communities large and small.

The program, which began about 10 years ago, has helped ramp up beautification and preservation efforts in hundreds of cities across the country, including efforts in Ironton, Point Pleasant and Gallipolis.

Each year, America in Bloom sends expert judges to all the participating communities to judge each on six criteria. Those categories include floral displays, landscaped areas, urban forestry, environmental efforts, heritage preservation and overall impression. Then at a national conference in the fall, awards are presented for overall winners in several population categories, along with awards for achievement in individual categories. For example, Ironton won in 2008 for its floral display.

For the Huntington effort, committees have been organized to focus on each category, and those volunteers have begun to work on their game plans. The warm days of spring are still a month away, so things are just in the planning stage at this point. But in April, a public meeting will be held to talk about what needs to be done and hopefully engage a large base of volunteers.

Already an impressive group of partners has signed on to help, including Marshall University, the Huntington Area Development Council, Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce and Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District.

The competition, national exposure and expert feedback that America in Bloom offers will all be helpful to Huntington's effort to revitalize the city and downtown. But we think the greatest benefit will be in pulling together organizations, businesses and volunteers to improve our community's appearance. Win or lose, this competition has the potential to produce visible and sustainable results that will help make Huntington a more attractive place to shop and visit.

Let's get ready to make Huntington bloom.

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