Businesses and individuals helping make Blount County greener and cleaner were recognized by Keep Blount Beautiful at its 26th annual Bravo! Awards.

The celebration luncheon was held on Thursday at Barley’s in downtown Maryville. Adrienne Schwarte, KBB board president and KBB Executive Director Brittney Whipple hosted the awards presentation along with Lisa Phipps, representing the Garden Clubs of Blount County.

The first award, the Tulip Poplar Award was presented to Mark Seder, a member of Tuckaleechee Garden Club. His efforts at making Townsend a more beautiful community through a recent invasive plant removal helped garner him the recognition. The project took place at the Townsend Riverwalk and Arboretum.

Julie Konkel was the recipient of the Sue Dawson Award, named after the founder of KBB. Dawson was in the audience on Thursday. Konkel was singled out and rewarded for working with KBB to plant 57 trees at two Blount County Schools.

“Working with this year’s recipient has made me realize that community partnerships truly make us stronger organizations,” Whipple said. Konkel is a representative of the Blount County Soil

Conservation District.

Making old look spectacular

Schwarte then presented the Reuse/Redesign award to a business that took an existing building and transformed it. The nominees were The Showroom at Five Points and Allevia Technology.

The winner was The Showroom at Five Points, located on East Broadway in Maryville. The building was built in 1930 and has served as a grocery store and car showroom. It is owned by Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants. It was then Phipps’ turn to announce the Bravo! Award winners. She explained that judges go around to the nominees’ locations to asses their properties for their landscaping designs. Originality, choice of plants, color and overall design were the criteria used, she said.

The nominees included Sundown Resort in Townsend, Big Valley Resort in Townsend, Jack Raby Optical, Bridgeway Apartments in Maryville, Little Mountain Community Pumphouse No. 2 and Maryville College’s Anderson Hall and Fayerweather Hall.

Winners were Sundown Resort, Bridgeway Apartments, Little Mountain Community Pump House No. 2 and both of the MC sites.

MC President Tom Bogart brought the leadership team from the college’s physical plant — those responsible for the campus beautification. He said he gets compliments all the time about the work they do. KBB was founded in 1992 and is part of Keep America Beautiful. The Bravo! Awards are the culmination of the 100 days of the Great American Cleanup.

Schwarte reported that during the GAC, KBB orchestrated three community cleanups and worked with 17 small group cleanups. All of that produced 355 bags of trash weighing 7,247 pounds.

Other events include the annual Earth Day Recycling. A truckload of electronics were recycled along with hundreds of bins of paper for shredding. Third graders participated in a Waterfest event.

“We couldn’t have done any of this work without the help of the dedicated volunteers that we have,” Schwarte said. “I am so impressed with KBB events and seeing people there ready and excited to go.”

She said a recent encounter stands out. Schwarte arrived at a cleanup event where a family had brought their 4-year-old son.

“He told me, ‘I am here just because I love the Earth,’” Schwarte said the youngster told her. Then he got his supplies and went to work.

“It’s wonderful to see people fostering that kind of engagement in young children,” she added.

Melanie joined The Daily Times in the early 90s and has served as the Life section editor since 1993. A William Blount and UT alum, Melanie is generally the early arriver who turns on the lights in the newsroom.

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