AIB Already Planning for 2013

MADISONVILLE, KY (12/6/12) – It's important to recognize the shared responsibility we have as a community when it comes to making our city a better place to live. There are many ways to get involved, whether it is casting your vote, helping your neighbor, organizing a fundraiser, or merely investing time beautifying your front yard. The things we choose to do on a daily basis affect our development and achievements as a whole.

For the last two years Madisonville has been involved in a countrywide initiative called America in Bloom (AIB). This initiative has been undertaken to help maintain our community’s inspiration when it comes to the upkeep of the city in which we live. Not only does AIB help to beautify our city, but it also places Madisonville in the national spotlight.

This will be the third year that the City of Madisonville has participated in this program, and plans are already underway for 2013. On December 4, 2012, the AIB steering and chair committee meeting was held at Madisonville City Hall to prepare.

The group discussed highlights of the AIB 2012 evaluation form, which was filed by the judges that oversaw Madisonville’s progress since first participating in the program. There were lots of new ideas for 2013 that were entertained at the gathering.

Some of the topics that were touched on included staying focused on the improvement of Madisonville’s primary exits on the Pennyrile Parkway. Specifically, exits 42 and 44, as they represent the first impression that our community makes upon visitors entering our city.

As mentioned during the meeting, there are two conceptual plans that were developed by the Landscaping and Overall Impression Committees regarding this idea. It was agreed by all present that the committees need to create a hybrid plan that is both economical and sustainable in terms of ongoing maintenance. The group also brought up the fact that a reliable budget needed to be drawn up for the plan. These improvements will be implemented in stages that will begin in Spring of 2013.

One of the ideas that the group hopes to implement at one of the exits is a field of red poppies in honor of the American Legion. Another potential plan for the exits includes the planting of no-maintenance ornamental grass and large evergreen trees. A plan to minimize formal landscaped beds to help reduce the maintenance burden on the city was also mentioned.

In the evaluation, the 2012 AIB judges complimented the Downtown Turnaround Project (DTP) for its work on improving the appearance of the downtown area. Judges suggested utilizing existing empty storefronts as a platform for window displays highlighting the AIB program, and detailing ongoing projects. The committees hope to look further into that idea.

It was mentioned by Hopkins County Extension Agent for Horticulture and AIB steering committee member, Andy Rideout, that the judges in both 2011 and 2012 noted the city’s lack of a written Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM) for municipal properties. The group discussed the recommendation and determined that such a plan appeared to already be in place, but under another title. Rideout is currently reviewing the plan and modifying it appropriately.

AIB Chairman, Leslie Curneal, and President of the Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce, Harriett Whitaker, recently made a presentation on AIB to the Hopkins County Board of Realtors. The presentation was made in an effort to gain their interest and support for AIB. In other AIB communities, the respective area's Board of Realtors are heavily involved in AIB efforts. They have a unique relationship with new residents relocating into the community and directly affect the first impression of the community. The committees hope that they will be able to garner some additional support in that area.

Chairman of the Floral Display Committee, Jenny Gibson, gave a preview of the downtown sidewalk pots for 2013. Gibson introduced the 2013 AIB color scheme of hot pink, yellow, and white to the other committees. These colors have been chosen because they are vibrant and provide lots of options for planting, whether sun or shade-loving plants are used. Gibson also discussed the plan that is currently underway to increase floral displays downtown, which includes the addition of colorful hanging baskets that will be placed on Madisonville’s decorative light posts. It was estimated that approximately 50 baskets will be installed in the spring of 2013 at strategic locations throughout the downtown area. Each of these will color-coordinate with the new sidewalk pots being used. The plan for those will include a new watering vehicle, which will be used to keep those flowers hydrated.
 
Zoning Administrator and member of the Homebuilders Association, Debbie Todd, shared an exciting new initiative developed with Leslie Curneal and the Central and North Hopkins High School Agriculture Departments. This initiative seeks to promote community awareness of AIB, help spread the AIB theme colors throughout the community, and assist the high school programs. The high schools will work together and produce colorful annuals that will be sold at the annual Home Expo in April at the Ballard Convention Center.

Rideout also brought a major fundraising plan for AIB to the table. He is working on a community-wide raffle for a $10,000 landscape makeover. Tickets are projected to cost $10 each. Rideout is currently working to obtain sponsors to cover the cost of the landscaping so that all ticket sale proceeds can go toward a significant AIB project, such as the improvement of the parkway exits. He is also working on reaching an agreement with a local non-profit to hold the gaming license required by state law that will be needed to do so.

It was then noted by Gibson that the worst score given by judges in the "Floral Display" category was in the municipal sector. The score given highlights a lack of year around interest. Gibson reported that she plans to install holiday greenery and decorations in the new hanging baskets that will be placed downtown for the holiday season. Gibson would also like to add strands of white Christmas lights to the limbs of deciduous trees in the downtown area that could be displayed all year. Other ideas were discussed, including adding evergreen shrubs and trees to municipal properties.
 
Another exciting idea the group discussed, is the development of a Saturday Market downtown. The hope is that the market would incorporate the existing Farmer’s Market with other offerings, such as fresh baked goods, artists, and music. This market would be similar to one currently held in Fayetteville, AK, which was attended by several AIB committee members. The 2012 AIB symposium was attended as well, and Fayetteville’s market is touted as the best in the country. Rideout has received detailed bylaws of the Fayetteville market organization and is working on development of a similar plan for Madisonville.
 
Mayor David Jackson briefly joined the meeting to thank everyone for the hundreds of hours devoted thus far to the AIB process, and stated that he was amazed at what the community has been able to accomplish in just two years. Mayor Jackson said that he sees this project as one of the most important initiatives in the city.
 
The Sugg Street Post will continue to update the community on AIB progress in an effort to make sure the community is aware of what is taking place and encouraged to get involved as well.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Jessica Dockrey
Information provided by Jenny Gibson

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