Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler, left, and Code Enforcement Officer Miriam Ethridge attended the America in Bloom national symposium last week to receive the non-profit's highest national honor the Overall Impression Outstanding Achievement Award.
Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler, left, and Code Enforcement Officer Miriam Ethridge attended the America in Bloom national symposium last week to receive the non-profit's highest national honor the Overall Impression Outstanding Achievement Award.

Madison makes an award-winning first impression.

America in Bloom, a non-profit that promotes nationwide beautification programs and community involvement by encouraging the use of flowers, plants and trees, honored Madison with its Overall Impression Outstanding Achievement Award.

Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler and Miriam Ethridge, the city’s code enforcement officer, received the award, the highest honor presented at America in Bloom’s symposium and awards celebration last week in St. Charles, Illinois.




“It’s exciting to know that people from other states see what we see in Madison every day,” Butler said.

Communities of all sizes compete for the Overall Impression Award, the highest honor handed out by America in Blood. Two judges visited Madison in June to observe and assess the city for its efforts in community vitality, flowers, landscaped areas, urban forestry, environmental efforts, celebrating heritage and overall impression. The judges make the nomination, which is then reviewed by an awards review committee to determine the winner. 

“This award recognizes Madison’s commitment to making the community more welcoming and attractive. This award recognizes communities that excel in leadership and policy; amenities; and overall condition and maintenance of the built environment,” Laura Kunkle, executive director of America in Bloom, said. 

This is Madison’s first year in the America in Bloom program. Butler and Ethridge said receiving the organization’s most prestigious achievement award in the city’s initial entry is a significant honor.  

In their nomination for the overall award, the two judges, who hailed from Florida and South Carolina, said that Madison immediately makes visitors feel welcomed. “You may think to yourself, ‘I feel welcome here or this place really feels like home.’ Maybe you think, ‘I’d like to stop, shop, have lunch or even live here.’ Clearly, we all want our community to have that warm feeling of home and when you enter the city of Madison, Mississippi, there is no doubt that you instantly feel that there is something very special going on here.

“Hearing the slogan ‘Families Come First,’ you realize that this community is working hard to make Madison a great place to live, work and play. But then you also notice that there isn’t a single piece of trash anywhere on the city streets, the turf is picture perfect and graffiti doesn’t exist anywhere. You’ll find beautiful water features, lamp posts, benches, bicycle racks, drinking fountains, and containers/planters gracing the city, and billboards, and posted flyers are non-existent,” the judges said.

Ethridge said the judges also complimented Madison on its noteworthy project, the Children’s Memorial Garden at Strawberry Patch Park. The garden is a project of Too Soon, a support group of local women bonded by the loss of their children.

Ridgeland was named the winner of the “Tree-mendous Trees — Most Beautiful Canopy of Trees” special award. This was one of 10 special awards given out. Ridgeland also received special recognition for “Urban Forestry.”

The City of Canon received special recognition for “Community Vitality.”