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Beautify the Bluegrass recognizes community spirit

The Beattyville City Park after flooding
The Beattyville City Park after flooding left it in disarray and no longer safe. Photo: Tim Coyle

FOR THE SIXTH STRAIGHT YEAR, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives and its flagship publication, Kentucky Living, are partnering with the governor’s office to Beautify the Bluegrass by recognizing beautification efforts in communities across the commonwealth. 

“When Beautify the Bluegrass started in 2017, it was first described as a contest to inspire Kentuckians to improve public spaces,” explains Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “What is so heartening is that Kentuckians don’t need a prize to motivate their community spirit; there are hundreds of homegrown projects, and we want to spotlight them.” 

Through August 5, Kentuckians are encouraged to nominate local beautification efforts by visiting the Beautify the Bluegrass page. Submissions can include existing projects carried out since August 2021. Finalists will be announced online during the Kentucky Living Best in Kentucky Awards on August 17, followed by an online vote through September 2. 

Last year, Gov. Andy Beshear announced the restoration of Beattyville City Park as the recipient of the 2021 Beautify the Bluegrass Governor’s Award. More than 45 Jackson Energy Cooperative employees volunteered 630 man-hours over a two-day span to help restore the park after it was submerged and devastated by historic flooding. 

“I am proud to partner with Kentucky’s electric cooperatives to support homegrown beautification efforts across the commonwealth and appreciate the cooperative spirit of Beautify the Bluegrass,” Beshear says. “This is what ‘Team Kentucky’ is about—Kentuckians who care about their communities and take action to help. I am excited to see how Kentuckians will Beautify the Bluegrass in 2022.” 

Five other projects were recognized as finalists last year:

  • McDougal Lake Trail Cleanup and Beautification (Hodgenville)—Knob Creek Conservancy. 
  • Ohio County Park amphitheater stage reconstruction (Hartford)—Big Rivers Electric Corporation volunteers. 
  • Lake Liberty transformation (Liberty)—Liberty Tourism and Trail Town Task Force. 
  • The Monarch Mural (Franklin)— Franklin-Simpson Garden Club and volunteers. 
  • Leslie County Community Canoe Cleanup (Leslie County, Middle Fork Kentucky River)— Organized by Kammy, Wyatt, Gabriella and Jackson Ostrander and community volunteers. 
  • In Beattyville, flooding left the park in total disarray and no longer safe for children. 

“The floodwaters left behind damaged fencing, broken equipment and mounds of sand that covered everything from the top of the slides to the gutters on the shelter,” says Lisa Baker, one of the Jackson Energy Cooperative volunteers. 

Under the guidance of Beattyville Mayor Scott Jackson, Jackson Energy employees worked alongside several city employees to reconstruct the required safety fall zone around each piece of play equipment, shoveled tons of sand and a truckload of mulch, repaired fencing, pressure-washed the play equipment and shelter building, revitalized the landscaping and added a final touch of paint. 

“The employees of Jackson Energy understand the importance of a strong community and we are committed to doing our part,” says Carol Wright, the co-op’s president and CEO. “It was our privilege to work alongside the leaders of Beattyville-Lee County to restore their city park and to give a vital piece of their community back to them. When given the opportunity to give back, we are ready to make a positive impact for the families we call neighbors. 

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