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City recognized in America in Bloom

America in Bloom
Sep. 21, 2013 @ 11:11 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Huntington received a special recognition in its population category in the Overall Impression category Saturday night at the national America in Bloom awards ceremony in Orlando, Fla.

Huntington received a total of four out of five blooms, as Holland, Mich., won for the third year in a row in the 30,000 to 50,000 population category.

America in Bloom is a nonprofit organization formed in 2001 that promotes beautification through education and community involvement. Entrance into the competition includes on-site coaching from judges, who visited Huntington for two days in July.

The America in Bloom judges evaluated the city using six criteria: floral displays, landscaped areas, urban forestry, environmental efforts, heritage preservation and overall impression. While in Huntington, they toured the downtown, riverfront, Ritter Park, Huntington Museum of Art, Marshall University and Heritage Farm Museum and Village, among many other attractions.

"When I see the way our city embraced America in Bloom and how volunteers sprung up from all over to make it cleaner, I don't see how anyone can say that we lost," Mayor Steve Williams said Thursday night after the city won the YouTube video award. "The one thing we've been able to underline is that it can't be City Hall that does everything. This is a city owned by its citizens and they've embraced the idea that if we're going to be an exceptional city, everyone has to be engaged."

He was even more excited after the Saturday night symposium wrapped up, saying by phone that he can't beleive the progress Huntington has made since taking office in January.

"Huntington in Bloom just doesn't mean plants," he said. "It's our city. I've seen individuals step forward and volunteer. Huntington wins because we have found what we can do for ourselves and not be dependent on others."

Williams -- who was joined by Huntington Municipal Development Authority Director Tom Bell and Cara Hedrick, director of the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau -- said he hopes to continue working with Gallipolis, Ohio, which joined Echo, Ore., as the 2013 Circle of Champions winners.

Williams also said that he attended several discussions Saturday morning and afternoon, taking notes on some areas where Huntington shines and were the city can improve.

"We learned some things and will begin implementing some things," he said. "Every discussion meant something to us. We're leaving here pumped up and excited and ready to get rolling at 6 a.m. Monday morning."

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