Co-op participation in ‘Beautify’ project a real grassroots effort

After months of folks all across Kentucky rolling up their sleeves to pick up trash, plant flowers and paint murals on what were once blank walls, the 2018 Beautify the Bluegrass project has come to an end. The initiative was a collaboration between Governor Matt Bevin and Kentucky Living.

In all, 23 projects were entered. The overall winner, as selected by Gov. Bevin from finalists voted by Kentucky Livingreaders, was Mt. Sterling, which beautified a central area in the city. The London Downtown Board/City of London Tourism received the Commonwealth’s Award for its restoration of a dilapidated graveyard.

Kentucky’s electric cooperatives played a big role in the beautification initiative, with 10 co-ops entering projects. Fleming-Mason Energy was selected as the winner of the Governor’s Cooperative Award for its work on repairing playgrounds and reviving the pollinator garden at Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park.

From left: Chris Skates and Garry Gupton of Governor Bevin’s Office present Lori Ulrich of Fleming-Mason Energy with the Governor’s Cooperative Award. Also pictured is KAEC President and CEO Chris Perry.

“One of the core cooperative principles is commitment to community,” says Fleming-Mason’s Lori Ulrich, director of Community & Economic Development. “This project gave us a chance to work together as a team to help with a need in our community.”

Here are the other co-op entries:

Big Rivers

BIG RIVERS ELECTRIC CORPORATION employees divided their time between two projects in June. Since the company covers a 22-county service territory, one park in Henderson and one park in Owensboro were selected for cleanup efforts. A team of employees spent a full day at John James Audubon State Park in Henderson picking up trash and clearing weeds from the campground and other park property. Another team dedicated a full day to spreading mulch and painting the ball field facilities at Panther Creek Park in Owensboro.

Big Sandy

BIG SANDY RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE employees chose to landscape the entrance to our local state park. They chose this project in hopes of catching the eye of folks who would otherwise pass by this gem hidden in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. They felt they have such a beautiful state park in the community, they wanted to highlight this part of it.

Clark Energy/East Kentucky Power Cooperative

CLARK ENERGY AND EAST KENTUCKY POWER COOPERATIVE weeded, planted flowers and spread 36 bags of mulch at the Welcome to Winchester sign on KY Route 627. Working on the weekends, co-op staff and family pulled weeds, purchased the mulch at Lowe’s and then made repeated trips to spread it. Co-op representatives planted begonias and coleus flowers.

City officials thanked the co-ops on social media for enhancing the south entrance to town. Both Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner and City Commissioner Kitty Strode came to the sign to be photographed with staff from Clark Energy and EKPC. One city commissioner wrote the following on Facebook: “Thank you. That welcome sign is perfect.” Representing Clark Energy, from left: Patty Young, Lois Hatton and Charlie Pasley; Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner and City Commissioner Kitty Strode East Kentucky Power’s Kevin Osbourn and Joe Settles.

Jackson Energy

JACKSON ENERGY COOPERATIVE partnered with the Four Seasons Garden Club of Irvine, to rejuvenate their Monarch Waystation located at the West Irvine Intermediate School. This waystation was originally created to provide a unique habitat specially designed for the monarch butterfly.

Although the waystation provides food and rest for all life-stages of these magnificent creatures, this waystation also serves as an outdoor classroom for the students at West Irvine Intermediate. The students get to see firsthand not only the importance of the garden itself, but the precious life cycles that unfold before their eyes. This waystation is also accessible to the Irvine community to appreciate, observe and enjoy.


Pennyrile Electric

PENNYRILE ELECTRIC identified Pennyrile State Park for their project. They developed a plan to level out 10 different areas and prepare a surface for concrete pavers. After the prep work was done, with assistance from the Christian County Jail, Pennyrile Electric employees began leveling each area and laying pavers in place. They also planted some flowers in large pots and placed them at various locations around the tables.

This project came together with the assistance of several local businesses. Lowes of Hopkinsville provided material at a discounted rate. The Christian County Jail crew came out and provided equipment and labor to level the selected areas and prepare them for the pavers. The rock and sand were donated by Rogers Group and hauled to the location by Tom Gamble Trucking free of charge.

Shelby Energy

SHELBY ENERGY improved the appearance of the Shelby County Annex Building by removing old trees and shrubs, trimmed and weeded, and planted flowers and put down new mulch.

South Kentucky RECC

SOUTH KENTUCKY RECC had 45 of its Somerset employees participate in the local, recent PRIDE cleanup day in Pulaski Co. Employees picked up trash on Parkers Mill Rd, Electric Ave, Weddle Ln, Regency Rd, and Enterprise Dr. It is something they try to participate in every year—helping to beautify their community.

West Kentucky RECC

WEST KENTUCKY RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE decided to beautify the entrance to one of western Kentucky’s most important tourism venues, Kenlake State Resort Park. The park is located in Marshall County, on the shores of Kentucky Lake and near the Land Between The Lakes, a national recreation area.

Over a span of three days, the team cleared old, overgrown landscaping around the park’s entrance sign, set new poles and upgraded wiring for the sign, enlarged the planting bed around the sign, laid new border stones, and set a carefully planned selection of new landscape plants.

The project was selected and coordinated by WKRECC’s Community Engagement Committee. The project team was compiled of employees, managers and board members, all of whom lent a particular expertise. The team also worked closely with Kenlake Park management to ensure the work met all necessary requirements.

The 2018 Beautify the Bluegrass project was a great success thanks to everyone who contributed. You each should feel very proud of your contributions to improve our communities and state.

Details about the 2019 Beautify the Bluegrass will be announced in the next few months.