Heartland Beautification committee members along with winners and Communities in Bloom judges pose for a group image on Monday evening, July 10. Seen here from left: Murray and Christy Brennan of Brennan Autobody, Beautification Champions; Lee Penner, Director of Parks and Leisure; Clive and Linda Spechko, Item-longevity award recipients; Mauro Franco Paradisi, Communities in Bloom judge; Grace Fix, vice-chair, Heartland Beautification Committee; Brad LeMaistre, principal, Christ King Catholic School, Eco Excellence award recipient; and Roger Younker, Communities in Bloom judge. Missing from the picture but present was Rob Spencer, Chair, Heartland Beautification Committee. Eco Excellent award recipients Jennifer and Cale Bennett were unable to attend the occasion. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Communities in Bloom judges tour Stettler

We are here to see what makes the town’s heart beat: Younker

The Stettler community was toured by Communities in Bloom judges Roger Younker from Prince Edward Island and Mauro Franco Paradisi from Italy on Monday, July 10.

The tour began at the Town office with brief presentations by Town officials and staff as well as the Heartland Beautification Committee members.

This was followed by a five-hour walking/driving tour to highlight the town’s strengths with stops at the Downtown Park, Main Street, P&H Elevator, the Stettler Transfer site, West Stettler Park, residential yards, Community Gardens, water retention ponds, environmental action initiatives such as Walk ‘n’ Roll, BYO Bag, and Trying to Be Idle-Free, the Museum, the cemetery, and the various sports and performing arts facilities.

The Stettler Museum hosted a lunch for the group and a small banquet at the Town Office finished the evening.

“Communities in Bloom is much more than the name suggests,” said Grace Fix, vice-chair of the Heartland Beautification Committee. “Communities are judged on six categories: Tidiness, Environmental Action, Heritage Conservation, Floral Displays, Urban Forestry, and Landscaping.”

This is the 17th year that Stettler has participated in the Communities in Bloom program. As National Champions in 2011 for the population category, Stettler now competes internationally. Others competing in Stettler’s category this year are Castlecaulfield, Northern Ireland; Jasper, Alta.; Listowel Tidy Towns Group, Co Kerry, Ireland; and Sun Rivers Resort Community, B.C.

“For members of the Heartland Beautification Committee, who oversee Stettler’s involvement, the best part of the program is getting the input from the judges as to what we are doing well in the six categories and ideas for improvement,” Fix added. “Because these judges see many different communities, they are a wealth of information of what can be done, and many of our current initiatives are a direct result of the judges’ suggestions in the past.”

The results of this year’s competition will be announced at the National Communities in Bloom Symposium to be held in Ottawa in September.

Beautification Champ

Brennan Autobody was named Stettler’s Beautification Champ this year. Murray and Christy Brennan and their staff purchased and planted 150 trees on the northwest corner of West Stettler Park as a Canada 150 commemoration. It was no small feat to plan and execute the planting of this grove and their generosity of time and money deserved this recognition, according to Fix.

Eco Excellence Awards

The Heartland Beautification Committee presented its 4th annual Eco Excellence Awards at the Communities in Bloom judges banquet on Monday, July 10. These awards recognize habits that exemplify “Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.”

Recipients were Jen and Cale Bennett in the individual/household category for their eco-friendly home that includes wheat straw bales as insulation rated at R-50, passive solar heating, a soapstone masonry heater that requires only one hour of wood burning to radiate significant heat for 12 hours, and planting only native shrubs and trees. The Bennetts have thought outside the box to make their home energy efficient and are very happy with it.

In the non-profit groups/institutions category the recipient this year was Christ King Catholic School, represented by the new principal, Brad LeMaistre. The school is very diligent in reducing consumption of water, electricity and paper and is a collection site for recycling household batteries and pens/markers. “Reduce, Re-use, Recycle” has become a habit in the school and now carries over in what the staff and students do within their home environments.

Item-Longevity award

This award aims to celebrate long-term use of an item instead of throwing it out before its usable life is up. The recipients this year were Clive and Linda Spechko who have a 1987 Chevy Wrangler truck that they have owned for 30 years. It has 387,000 km on it and is still working well. It has become the neighbourhood truck for moving, hauling gravel and more recently, hauling tree branches from the big winds.

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