Mississippi Mills awarded an impressive 4 blooms in the Communities in Bloom competition

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Mississippi Mills has earned an impressive 4 (out of a possible 5) blooms in the 2011 Communities in Bloom (CiB) Ontario competition. This accomplishment is all the more impressive, given this is the Town’s first appearance in the provincial contest.

Nicole Guthrie, Judy McGrath and Carol Kenward attended the awards luncheon in Toronto October 20 to receive the results in person.

“I am thrilled!” said Guthrie, Cultural and Community Programmer for the Town. “This acknowledgement of our natural, historic and cultural beauty can be used as a significant draw for tourism and new business.”

Judy McGrath added: “Receiving the award of 4 blooms on our first try was a wonderful acknowledgement of the dedicated work and planning put in by the community volunteers and town staff, encouraging us to work even harder to make Mississippi Mills the very best it can be.”McGrath took several of the stunning photos used in the Community Profile Book prepared for the CiB judges’ visit in July.

“It was mostly due to some very committed volunteers as well as Town staff” said Fern Martin, Chair of the Town’s Beautification Committee. “From the 43 individuals who contributed to the profile book, to the early risers weeding Pakenham’s sidewalk cracks– and to all the volunteers and Town and County staff who continue to do their thing so well – we say thank you.”

The Mill of Kintail was singled out for a Special Mention. The CiB judges’ evaluation report notes that the Mill “embodies many of the aspects of the CiB criteria: heritage, tidiness, environmental, landscape and floral as well as a very large community involvement campaign.” We couldn’t agree more.

The evaluation report assesses the Town’s efforts and provides useful comments and recommendations. Mississippi Mills received the highest mark in Heritage Conservation (80.7%), followed by Floral Displays (76%) and Tidiness (75.3%). The judges acknowledged the strong community involvement throughout the area.

“We really got a sense of a community that cooperates and works together on projects and festivals,” states the report, which goes on to mention Puppets Up! and the “delightful theatre curtains painted on many windows”.

The lowest score was in Urban Forestry (63.4%). While acknowledging attempts such as Arbour Week and the Chamber of Commerce tree sales, the judges’ advised that the Town needs: a tree management plan; an integrated pest management plan, in particular to address the pending arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer; and proper mulching and care for newly planted trees.

While the report will no doubt influence the Beautification Committee’s future activities, the committee didn’t wait for the award announcement before starting on next year’s campaign. For example, the Nudes of Mississippi Mills 2012 calendar has been on sale for nearly a month. This fundraising project will direct profits to several charities as well as CiB projects.

Committee member Fay Devlin is eager to grow the profits by capitalizing on grants. “Many grants are based on matching funds,”she said. “We have the potential to double the calendar profits if we carefully manage our spending.”

Exactly how and where the profits will be spent has not yet been determined. Readers are encouraged to provide suggestions to any member of the Beautification Committee.

A copy of the full report is available from the Recreation and Culture Office in Almonte’s Old Town Hall.