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CARTHAGE, Mo. — A non-profit organization known for promoting beautification programs in towns and cities across the country — is shining a spotlight on “America’s Maple Leaf City.”

On Friday (9/29), “America in Bloom” held their annual awards ceremony and symposium in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Among those receiving top honors — the City of Carthage.

America in Bloom (AIB) chose Carthage, the county seat of Jasper County, as the winner of the award for “Most Impressive New Project or Program — Innovation in Action.” Carthage also received special recognition for its Community Vitality from AIB evaluators (also known as advisors) who toured the city this past summer.

“People are investing their time and their money in making their home and their hometown more beautiful, and the volunteer base of those taking part is growing every year,” said Jackie Boyer, a Carthage resident of more than 40 year, and a member of “Vision Carthage” — an organization focused on beautifying Carthage.

To be selected for an award, participants were evaluated on seven criteria: Community vitality, overall impression, environmental initiatives, heritage celebration, urban forestry, landscaped areas, and floral impact.

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America in Bloom says their yearly awards ceremony gives participating cities, towns, villages, and neighborhoods across the country the opportunity to be nationally recognized for their community enhancement efforts and accomplishments.

“There’s always a goal out there for future improvements and enhancements to Carthage. One thing I’ve noticed is the increase in a simple aspect of beautification of Carthage, and that’s the increase in those planting flowers. There are so many more houses that have flowers in their front yard and it really does add a feeling of welcome when you enter Carthage,” said Boyer.

In early July, AIB advisors, Laurie Lafferty and Galen Gates spent two days visiting local parks and notable hot spots around Carthage. They also met city officials, residents, and local volunteers — discussing the goals of their town tour.

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“Our job is to help Carthage be the best it can be, and to highlight what we see as outsiders. When we come into the community, we look at it with different eyes and maybe make suggestions no one else has come up with,” explained Lafferty.

“America in Bloom is helping communities of all sizes achieve their potential. Every year our participants raise the bar, and the accomplishments and progress shown by this year’s group is remarkable. These are, without a doubt, some of the best places to live, work, and visit.  Congratulations to Carthage for the excellent work making your community more beautiful and vibrant,” said America in Bloom Executive Director, Laura Kunkle.

To date, more than 330 communities from 43 states have participated in the AIB program, and more than 22 million people have been touched by it.