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Beautifying Kentucky

We hope to make other communities in Kentucky jealous of us,” says Johnny Webb, his smile gleaming in the Kentucky Capitol rotunda, “but jealous in a good way.” 

The former Bowling Green mayor heads the nonprofit Operation PRIDE beautification organization. Its Beautify I-65 Project in Warren County won last year’s Beautify the Bluegrass Governor’s Award. 

“It’s a privilege to congratulate the Beautify I-65 project, along with all the other Beautify the Bluegrass initiatives, for their incredible efforts to make Kentucky a better place to live and raise a family,” says Gov. Andy Beshear, who announced the 2022 Governor’s Award recipient at the Capitol in September. 

This year, communities across Kentucky once again have their own chance to be recognized for outstanding beautification projects. For the seventh straight year, the Governor’s Office, Kentucky’s electric cooperatives and their flagship publication, Kentucky Living, are collaborating on the Beautify the Bluegrass initiative to recognize local efforts. 

Kentucky Living readers are encouraged to nominate local beautification efforts now at

Operation PRIDE’s Beautify I-65 project, which was nominated by Warren RECC, won the 2022 Beautify the Bluegrass Governor’s Award. Photo: Nick Williams
Representatives of the group accept the award from Gov. Andy Beshear. Photo: Wade Harris
JPEC employees volunteered their time to upgrade and beautify a playground area at the Lifeline Recovery Center in Paducah. Photo: Ashley Turner
Volunteers used grant funds to build a nature trail and outdoor classroom at Hodgenville Elementary School. Photo: Dora Canter
Kindergarten through fifth grade students at Eastern Elementary in Pleasureville joined teachers, staff and parents to pull weeds...
plant flowers and vegetables, paint the garden club sign and more. Photos: Cheryl Topp
Dozens of community volunteers partnered with the city of Liberty and Liberty Tourism to restore the Veterans Memorial Park. Photo: Heather Cundiff

“Because co-ops belong to and are led by people in the communities they serve, improving the quality of life in those local communities is at the heart of the electric cooperative mission,” says Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “I’m especially pleased that Warren RECC and the entire Bowling Green area rallied around this project to earn this recognition.” 

Warren Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation nominated last year’s award-winning project, which involved planting flowers and trees, installing fencing along five local interchanges and creating “gateway” exits with attractive signs and colorful flags. Operation PRIDE partnered with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the City of Bowling Green and Warren County. Organizers hope to entice travelers to explore the community and visit local businesses. 

“We would like for other communities in Kentucky to do what we’ve done because we want to elevate the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Webb says. “It creates community pride, and it’s an economic development tool for our community.” 

Beshear called the Beautify the Bluegrass program one of his favorite examples of what it means to be on Team Kentucky: “I am so grateful to every individual, family and organization who volunteers their time to improve their community.” 

After nominations are gathered throughout the spring and summer, readers vote for a winner on from among five finalists announced by Beshear during Kentucky Living’s Best in Kentucky Awards Show on August 16 

The four other finalists in 2022 included: 

Eastern Elementary Garden Club, Pleasureville 

Kindergarten through fifth grade students joined teachers, staff, parents and community members in this effort. Students worked on birdhouses, pulled weeds, cleaned out flower beds, planted flowers and vegetables, painted the garden club sign, painted stones and wrote thank you cards to all who donated, working to make their school a beautiful place to learn, have fun and be a kid. 

Hodgenville Elementary School Natural Trail and Outdoor Classroom 

In addition to ongoing efforts to clean up farm dumps and lakeside trash at McDougal Lake, volunteers with the Knob Creek Conservancy partnered with the LaRue County solid waste coordinator to haul out more than 100 tires and tons of trash. The group used grant funds to build a nature trail and an outdoor classroom in a small, wooded corner at Hodgenville Elementary School for LaRue County students and the community. 

Lifeline Recovery Center Playground, Paducah 

Residential clients of this nonprofit addiction treatment center have a dedicated playground area for visiting children to play and spend time with their loved ones. Jackson Purchase Energy Cooperative employees volunteered their time to add new playground equipment, rubber mulch and two picnic tables, clearing the playground and surrounding area of weeds and trimming surrounding hedges and bushes. 

Veterans Memorial Park Beautification Project, Liberty 

After the park fell into disrepair for several years, the City of Liberty partnered with Liberty Tourism to bring the park and its fountain back to life. Dozens of community volunteers from groups such as Casey County 4-H and the VFW partnered with the city to restore the park and honor our nation’s veterans. 

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