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Henderson County scored four out of five blooms and its newly dedicated veterans-honoring painting won a special award for Most Striking Public Wall Mural during the 2016 America in Bloom National Awards Program Saturday in Arroyo Grande, Calif.
The county also won special recognition for its efforts in Landscaped Areas.
Participants were evaluated on six criteria: overall impression, environmental awareness, heritage preservation, urban forestry, landscaped areas, and floral displays. Additionally they were judged on their community involvement across municipal, residential, and commercial sectors. America in Bloom is the only national awards program that sends specially trained judges to personally visit participants. In addition, each participant receives a detailed written evaluation that can be used as a guide to future improvements.
"Holy cow," mural artist Andrea Martin said when told of the award Sunday morning by the Hendersonville Lightning. "Yay! That's great news. The more exposure the veterans can get the better."
Martin said that the America in Bloom judges who visited the area June 27-28 looked at the mural.
"A woman who works with the Historic Committee called me and said they wanted more information," she said. "They toured it and asked for a writeup about the background."
Martin spent a year painting the 90x20-foot salute to veterans, which was dedicated on Sept. 11.
Karin Rindal and Pam Turrell, AIB judges, visited communities of similar populations and spent two days touring each town, meeting municipal officials, residents, and volunteers. Other competitors in the 30,000 to 50,000 category were Midland, MI, Saratoga, CA and St. Charles, IL.
America in Bloom executive director, Laura Kunkle, said, “America in Bloom is helping towns and cities of all sizes achieve their potential. Every year our participants raise the bar, and the accomplishments and progress shown by this year's group is again remarkable. These are, without a doubt, some of the best places to live in America.”
To date, 250 communities from 41 states have participated in the program and more than 22 million people have been touched by it.