‘Bloom’ judges touring town

Two judges from the “Communities in Bloom” organization are in Fort Frances to take a look at what the town and its residents have done to beautify the community over the past year.
Gail Reed of Barrie, Ont. and Marg Legris of Bala, Ont. arrived Thursday afternoon, first visiting the Fort Frances Horticultural Society’s annual flower and vegetable show at the old CN station before attending a barbecue at Lions Millennium Park, courtesy of the Fort Frances Lions Club, where Mayor Dan Onichuk formally introduced them to the public.
“Things are looking great so far,” remarked Reed, adding the Lions Millennium Park was a “wonderful facility.”
“I think it’s wonderful to be here,” said Legris, who noted she was in Fort Frances during the 1980s to conduct figure skating clinics.
“It looks like it’s changed a lot, which is great,” she added, noting her first impression of the town upon arriving Thursday was “it was very tidy.”
“And I’m glad to see they’ve saved the train station,” Legris remarked.
The two judges, who most recently were in Red Lake, toured sites such as the “Garden of Life” in front of the hospital and the La Verendrye Parkway yesterday evening after the barbecue.
On Friday, they were slated to take a tour with museum curator Pam Hawley to check out the town’s historical sites and murals, then go on to visit the two cemeteries, check out the town’s schools, parks, and industrial sites, and meet representatives from groups such as the local Chamber of Commerce.
They’ll leave Saturday morning.
“Communities in Bloom” is a national contest “committed to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility, and beautification through community participation and the challenge of a friendly competition,” according to its mission statement.
There are eight criteria the judges consider when grading municipalities: floral displays, turf and groundcover areas, landscaping, heritage preservation, tidiness effort, environmental awareness, urban forestry, and community involvement.
The municipalities are judged based on a system of one to five blooms.
Following the judges’ visit, the local “Communities in Bloom” committee eventually will hear back regarding what “bloom” rating the town received, as well as feedback on what areas can be improved.
This is the first year Fort Frances officially is competing in “Communities in Bloom.”
Last August, two judges—Lee Rozon and Angela Vieth—spent two days visiting various sites around the community on a preliminary basis and ended up giving the town “a very good evaluation.”