MANSFIELD – Mansfield captured top honors from the America in Bloom awards program this year.
The Mansfield in Bloom program won first place in its population size and received the “Coolest Place for Kids” award and special recognition for its floral displays. It all adds up to an 8 out of 10-star rating.
“We are excited about it,” Mansfield in Bloom organizer, Doug Versaw said. “We are being told that is exceptional.”
The awards were announced at the annual symposium and awards celebration held in Lexington, Kentucky on Sept. 29. Three representatives from Mansfield in Bloom, including Versaw, attended.
“There’s networking and the chance to talk with different communities. There’s been some communities involved from nearly the beginning of America in Bloom,” Versaw said. “You learn from some the things they are doing and some of the things maybe we could try here in Mansfield.”
But the best part, he says is how the judges act as consultants. Participating cities receive evaluations, outlining what was done well, what could be improved and specific project suggestions for the future.
Mansfield’s was nearly 30 pages long, Versaw recalled.
Mansfield participated in the America in Bloom program for the first time in the summer of 2017 and scored three out of a possible five “blooms.” But this season a new rating system was used.
The term “bloom” was unintentionally sending the message that flowers were the most important part of the program, but that’s not the case, a press release from America in Bloom explained.
Participants were evaluated on seven criteria: overall impression, community vitality, environmental efforts, heritage celebration, urban forestry, landscaped area and flowers. Additionally, they were judged on their community involvement across municipal, residential and commercial sectors.
The community vitality section was new and worked to Mansfield’s advantage.
“Fortunately, Mansfield has much to offer in this category with its recreational activities, new outdoor music venue and multiple children’s programs,” the evaluation stated.
Versaw believes Mansfield may have won the “Coolest Place for Kids” award because of the program’s efforts to create children’s gardens, which were highlighted on the judges’ visit in July.
The evaluation also shows Mansfield gained points in the environmental category which went unscored in 2017. The changes to the itinerary and the city’s submitted profile gave the judges an opportunity to better “understand and evaluate Mansfield’s environmental efforts,” the evaluation stated.
Other population category winners included: Castle Rock, Washington in the under 3,000 category, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania in the 3,000 to 10,000 category, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania in the 10,000 to 14,000 category, Tavares, Illinois in the 14,000 to 25,000 category, St. Charles, Illinois in the 25,000 to 50,000 category, Mansfield, in the 25,000 to 75,000 category.
Outstanding Achievement Award winners included: Holliston, Massachusetts for “Celebrating Heritage,” Washington, Missouri for “Urban Forestry,” Morro Bay, California for “Landscaped Areas,” Combined Locks, Wisconsin for “Overall Impression,” Calabasas, California for “Environmental Efforts,” Logan, Ohio for “Community Involvement,” Bluffton, Ohio for “Flowers,” and Brewton, Alabama for “Community Vitality.”
Special Award winners included: Washington, Missouri for “Community Mentoring,” West Chicago, Illinois for “Best Community Celebration,” Decatur, Illinois for “Best Use of Social Media,” Clyde, Ohio for “Best Use of Containers in the Landscape,” Ottawa, Illinois for “Most Impressive New Project or Program,” Lewisburg, West Virginia for “Coolest Downtown,” Mansfield, Ohio for “Coolest Place for Kids,” Calabasas, California for “Best Example of Protecting Water Resources,” Lexington, Kentucky for “Best Heritage Tree Program” and Coshocton, Ohio for “Best Use of Edibles in the Landscape.”