GALLIPOLIS — Professional volunteer judges from the America in Bloom national awards program will visit Gallipolis on July 11-12.
This is Gallipolis’ 11th year as an America in Bloom participant, and is one of many communities across America working on local revitalization programs with an eye to receiving an America in Bloom national award.
As a veteran participant, Gallipolis has earned numerous America in Bloom awards in the past. Gallipolis was the winner of the population award in 2011 and 2014. It also earned the outstanding achievement award for floral displays in 2006 and 2013 and the outstanding achievement award for overall impression in 2014. Gallipolis join Echo, Ore., Estes Park, Colo., and Greendale, Ind., in the small-sized Circle of Champions category for populations under 10,000.
In addition to a receiving detailed written evaluation from the judges citing strengths and opportunities for improvement, participants receive a bloom rating and special mention for what the judges deem to be an extraordinary project or program. Additional awards that can be earned such as the population category award, outstanding achievement award (a “best of the best” overall evaluation in six categories), special awards, community champion and YouTube video award.
Judges will be evaluating the community’s efforts in the areas of overall impression, environmental efforts, heritage, landscaped areas, urban forestry, floral displays, and community involvement in the municipal, commercial and residential sectors.
This year’s Gallipolis judging team consists of Stephen Pategas and Susie Stratton.
Pategas is an award-winning landscape architect, garden writer, garden photographer and plant geek in Winter Park, Fla. He and his wife, Kristin, are owners of Hortus Oasis, a boutique landscape architecture company and authors of the book “Southern Coastal Home Landscaping” and gardening columns for local magazines. Their 1925 home and garden have been featured on numerous garden tours, in magazines and on television, including “Growing a Greener World” hosted by Joe Lamp’l.
Pategas currently serves on the City of Winter Park’s Keep Winter Park Beautiful and Sustainable board and with it founded Winter Park Blooms. Winter Park successfully competed in AIB in 2013. Previously, he served on the Tree Preservation Board and the Parks and Recreation Board. After designing the gardens for Casa Feliz, a 1933 historic brick house that was saved from demolition and moved in 2000, Stephen joined the Friends of Casa Feliz board. His travels have taken him to hundreds of gardens in North America, Europe and southeast Asia. Pategas’ favorite gardens to design are those that touch people’s lives.
Stratton and her husband, Steve, are owners and operators of Stratton Greenhouses, founded by Steve’s father. Today, it is a retail garden center, landscape and design operation and nursery serving the northwest Ohio region. Susie is the retail manager of the business as well as the landscape and design professional. She has a degree in art from Albion College as well as a master’s degree in college student personnel. Both of her skills are used when working with communities in the formation of design ideas. She also works with community leaders in trying to take their downtown districts to a higher level of beautification.
Stratton has been instrumental in the beautification of the University of Findlay campus since 2007. She was also chairman of their America in Bloom entry for 2013. They won the top environmental award as well as special mention and a four bloom rating.
To date, nearly 250 communities from 41 states have participated in the program and more than 22 million people have been touched by it. Awards will be announced Oct. 6-8 at AIB’s National Symposium and Awards in Arroyo Grande, Calif.