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Beautify the Bluegrass 2019 Finalists

Over the past year, hundreds of people all across Kentucky participated in the 2019 Beautify the Bluegrass, an initiative by Kentucky Living and Gov. Matt Bevin’s office. Out of all of those projects, now is your chance to vote for the top project from among five finalists listed below.

Kentuckians are encouraged to come together to make their communities shine. The goal is to identify projects in local communities to repair, enhance or beautify.

The winner of the public vote wins the Commonwealth’s Award. Gov. Bevin will select the Governor’s Award from among the top five finalists. The winners will be announced on Aug. 22 during the Best in Kentucky awards show at the Kentucky State Fair. The overall winner will receive a barbecue dinner for 200, hosted by Gov. Bevin.

Please review the projects, then vote at the bottom of the page for the project that best exemplifies the spirit of this initiative. 

Voting ends at 5 p.m. on August 5.

Camp KYSOC, Carrollton

Since November 2018, teams of volunteers have worked to rehabilitate the grounds at “Camp KYSOC,” a former Easter Seals Society facility that originally served special needs children. After years of disrepair and neglect, a group of volunteers formed a board to “Save the Soc.”

Since then, more than 400 volunteers, from school children to seniors, have completed three major clean up days at Camp KYSOC, in addition to ongoing projects. Rehab efforts include cutting down and cleaning up dangerous trees, especially dead ash trees. Industries that sent volunteers included North American Stainless, Dorman Products, and Walmart. Dow Chemical donated safety equipment for the volunteers, as well as a flag pole.

“Camp KYSOC is a special facility in the hearts of many Kentuckians and members of our community. Although, it is likely it would not be used for its original purpose ever again, it is a beautiful park with paved trails, hiking, wildlife, and a lake for fishing and boating. It was a “diamond in the rough” with so much potential. The county budget did not have the funds to
restore it, so it became a volunteer effort to make the camp functional again. We felt that the effort of volunteers demonstrated the importance of the camp to our county government, making it recognizable as a worthwhile use of county funds,” says Gerda Wise, Carroll County Friends of Camp KYSOC.

“Camp KYSOC is a wonderful park with handicapped accessible trails available for walking, with facilities for fishing, boating, hiking, and enjoying nature. We have a vision that one day it will be able to be used as a camp for many different groups.”

City of Covington

Every year, thousands of people from the six states that line the Ohio River gather on one day to clean up the littered banks of the very river that provides drinking water to those that live along it. The City of Covington, its residents, and Keep Covington Beautiful took to the Covington river banks to clean up 2,030 pounds of trash and recyclables on Saturday, June 15.

Forty-five volunteers spent four hours of their weekend ankle-deep in mud and debris to rid the river bank of the numerous single-use plastics, tires, textiles, and other littered items. The result—a clean river bank, exhausted volunteers, and this corner of Kentucky beautified.

After months of planning and recruiting volunteers of all ages gathered for breakfast then got to work. Among the items discovered in the muck were buckets, a door, suitcases, and even a Radio Flyer wagon.

“Our goal for this event was to bring the community together to clean up the river bank. We were able to accomplish this goal as well as meet new people, get outdoors, have fun, and beautify Kentucky! We hope that we also left our community inspired to care for their community through other volunteer events and in their spare time,” says Solid Waste & Recycling Coordinator, Covington, Sheila Fields.

Garland Bend Homeowners Association, Burnside

At a community meeting of the Garland Bend Homeowners Association, citizens decided to work on the Welcome to Garland Bend sign at the entrance of the community on State Route 804 (Garland Road). The association got a good response recruiting volunteers and got to work.

The plan included replacing rotting railroad ties with a stacked paver stone wall, thinning existing perennial plants and adding some annual flowers. The project took two days working five hours each day to complete. Ten area residents volunteered to help. Garland Bend is a long-established area with many homeowners that take pride in where they live. Volunteers pick up trash along area roads weekly, two times a year furnished with a dumpster by Pride for a clean-up of Garland Bend.

“The Welcome sign is at the entrance of the community and benefits everyone that enters the community. There is a boat ramp and a dock here and it draws visitors to the community,” says Liz Schrenker.

“It took two days and five hours each day to complete the project. Our goal was to replace the rotting railroad ties with a paver stone wall and spruce up the planting area and to show that we take pride in beautifying Garland Bend; Burnside, Kentucky.”

Rodburn Hollow Park, Morehead

What started as a discussion during a Sustainable Morehead meeting evolved to the development of the Friends of Rodburn Hollow Park. Over the past year, 200 volunteers have worked to clean, clear, build, replace, improve, teach and learn. The longest part of the project is signage design, selection, construction and installation. These projects are expected to be complete by the end of summer. Friends have already spent over 40 hours on the project. The largest stage of the project has been general park cleanup including restoration of foot bridges, debris removal, trail improvements, painting and power washing.

As a Kentucky Trail Town, volunteers identified a strong need to sustain the park as a trail hub. There are several small walking trails and national trail access directly from the park. The park now hosts events with the Rowan County 4-H, the City of Morehead Parks and Recreation Day Camp attendees.

“Our overall goal is to promote, preserve and protect Rodburn Hollow Park,” says Fred Howes, with Friends of Rodburn Hollow Park, Morehead.

“While memories and sustainability were both major drivers in improving the park, improving knowledge of the park, physical fitness, getting kids out in nature and the park’s proximity to downtown ranked high among all involved. Rodburn is located inside the city limits of Morehead. People can take advantage of a peaceful oasis to picnic, explore, play in the creek, learn and exercise. The possibilities for this park are endless. This is a great
place for kids to be kids and embrace the outdoors.”

Tollesboro Lions Club Community Park/Fairgrounds

Volunteers with the Tollesboro Lions Club Community Park/Fairgrounds worked to replace outdated playground equipment that dated to the 1950’s or 1960’s.

With a grant from the Center for Disease Control, volunteers erected a new handicapped accessible playground with state-of-the-art equipment, rubber mulch, concrete curbing, and concrete walkways to permit wheelchair access to swings.

All site prep not requiring heavy equipment was performed by club members, including removal of the old playground, old fence, and the briars and brush that covered the old fence. Club members also installed the fabric and rubber mulch.

In all, the group invested more than $75,000 on the project. Though some debt is financed through the Buffalo Trace Area Development District Revolving Loan Fund, the majority of the expense was covered by grants and community supporters.

“Organized 65 years ago, we are a very small Lions Club with 29 members. However, we own our fairgrounds (20 acres) located on KY 10 and AA Hwy. A basketball court and a blacktop walking track continue the theme of healthy living. Our grounds also include significant structural improvements necessary to host a first-class agricultural fair extending over nine days each year. In the last 10 years, with the help of numerous local supporters, volunteers, and a number of grants, we have made between $350,000 and $500,000 in grounds improvements. A small but mighty force, we live the Lions Club International motto: We Serve,” says Craig Stanfield.

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