Beautification committee presents first round of community improvement awards

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News

The Black Mountain Beautification Committee gave out four community improvement awards on Sept. 9. 

The award includes a lawn sign to put in front of their business or home as well as a $50 gift card from a local merchant. 

The committee awarded one private home and three businesses, including Black Mountain Bistro, Hurt Architecture and Planning and Mellie Mac's Garden Shack. 

Mellie Macsherry of Mellie Mac's said she was surprised to be nominated, let alone receive the award.

Mellie Mac's Garden Shack won a community improvement award from the Black Mountain Beautification Committee.

"Really? Me? I'm usually the one giving the gift cards," Macsherry said. "I usually try to help other people win things."

The awards were one of the goals the committee set for this year after a member suggested the idea. It was quickly put into motion after a vote. 

Community improvement chairperson Rhonda Reedy said the awards are a way to bring awareness to the image Black Mountain presents.  

"When your property looks nicer, it improves the whole community," Reedy said.

In order to qualify for the award, properties must be nominated through a form on the beautification committee's website. Anyone, committee member or not, can nominate, but the nominees must be a resident or business within Black Mountain's town limits.

The award will be given out to four businesses each quarter. The committee saw five nominations this round, but had previously decided to only award four properties. Reedy said there is already a nomination for the next awards, which will be given out in December. 

The committee recognizes improvements that have been made to a property during a quarter time period. They could have been started before, but the improvements need to be completed in the eligibility period. 

Reedy said things like holiday decorations do not count.

"It needs to be permanent improvement," Reedy said. "It doesn't necessarily have to be gardens, but landscaping does play a role in it."

For example, Black Mountain Bistro received the award in part because of their updated patio, but they added landscaping to enhance it. 

Jean Franklin (left) said Emily Sampson (right) is the "genius" behind her community improvement award-winning garden.

Jean Franklin and her partner Carl were the residents who won the award this quarter after starting their garden less than a year ago. Though she paid for it and helped out, Franklin gave all the credit to Patchwork Meadows owner Emily Sampson. 

Sampson designed Franklin's garden and did much of the labor. Franklin described Sampson as a "genius."

For Franklin, the award is about more than a pretty garden. 

"We are huge environmentalists," Franklin said. "We have solar panels on the house, we've been fighting climate change for years."

She cites Douglas W. Tallamy's book "Nature's Best Hope" as her inspiration for what she does. She said Tallamy argues that non-native plants like turf grass are driving species big and small to extinction. 

"Grass is killing the world. It does not support nature and we all want it," Franklin said. "What we're trying to do is shrink the yard and expand natives. This is why we did it. It seems like a good thing to do."