By Lucy Berry, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily
Getting out in the hot, humid summer to water plants, pull weeds and pick up trash is a joint effort for workers at Cricket by the Creek, but they do it with pride.
Lisa Jones, owner of the clothing boutique, was one of more than 50 local property owners to take home a Decatur Beautification Award on Wednesday. Each year, Cricket by the Creek strives to maintain outdoor landscaping and improve Decatur’s appearance.
“We support the city of Decatur’s beautification efforts as it’s important that our building is kept clean and attractive,” said sales associate Tricia Mitchell. “We think it’s great because we take pride in the first impression that our customers have.”
Jones hires landscapers to design, apply mulch, prune plants and keep sidewalks clean. However, workers at the boutique spend an additional hour a day weeding, watering plants and picking up debris from the store’s location on Sixth Avenue Southeast.
Cricket by the Creek varies its landscaping by season, with begonia flowers in the summer and pansies and mums in the fall. With each holiday, workers apply seasonal touches such as pumpkins and ivy to attract customers into the store.
“Customers tell us all the time that our flowers are so pretty and want to know what kind they are,” said sales associate Robin Williams. “We buy our pots and plants locally so we are able to refer them to other small, local businesses.”
The desire to keep up a clean image and compete for a beautification plaque each year makes the time and money spent well worth the effort for Jones.
“We like to know we’re helping the city accomplish something,” she said. “The awards get people to keep their own buildings cleaner and gives us something to work for.”
Lynn Schuppert, of Blackburn, Maloney & Schuppert LLC., accepted a Beautification Award for the “container beauty” category, created three years ago to encourage downtown businesses to get involved with landscaping.
Schuppert credited her competitive nature and love for historic Decatur for the law firm winning an award every year.
“I’m a big proponent for downtown,” she said. “When I travel to different places, I try to make it to the downtown areas. If a business is maintained nicely and is clean, I feel like the merchant takes pride in what they have to offer.”
Sugar Magnolia’s owner Amy Rakestraw designs and plants flowers into pots that are displayed at the front of the law firm. She is also responsible for the potted plants at other local businesses, including Beautification Award winners Cricket by the Creek, Parkway Medical Center and Elite Travel.
“Businesses either buy plants from me and do it themselves, or I physically come and do the designing,” Rakestraw said. “It’s the ultimate compliment for me knowing that I’m helping other people get a bug for gardening even on a small scale.”
Fifty-seven properties received Beautification awards this year. In addition, Burger King on Beltline Road won the John Cook Sr. Steward of Spring Award for consistently maintaining its landscape for at least five years and being the single best property in Decatur.
Commercial, less than two acres: Cooks Pest Control; Cricket by the Creek; Decatur Convention & Visitors Bureau; The Decatur Daily; Drake & Murphree Family & Cosmetic Dentistry; Express Oil Change-Beltline Road Southwest; Express Oil Change-Sixth Avenue Southeast; French Door Day Spa; Hospice of the Valley; Innovative Eyecare LLC; Lentz, Whitmire, House & Propst LLP; McWhorter Communications and Ronald & Joyce Terry; Nephrology of North Alabama PC; Personal Touch Health Care; Potter Eyecare; Ronald Terry Electric; Shelton Funeral Home; Talley, Maudlin & Peete PC; Temple Inc and Three Sisters Bonding Inc.
Commercial, more than two acres: Bradford Square; Deer Foot Estates and Parkway Medical Center.
Churches: Albany Baptist Church; Baptist World Mission (Honorable Mention); Central Park Baptist Church; Decatur Baptist Church; First Baptist Church; First Bible Church; First United Methodist Church; King’s Memorial United Methodist Church and St. Luke United Methodist Church.
Containers: Blackburn, Maloney, & Schuppert LLC. and Elite Travel.
Financial: Bank Independent-Beltline Road/The Crossings Shopping Center; Family Security Credit Union-Family Security Place; People’s Bank of North Alabama-Sixth Avenue and Renasant Bank-Lee Street Southeast/Modaus Road Southeast/Stratford Road Southeast.
Government: Decatur City Hall (Honorable Mention); Decatur Utilities; Fort Decatur Recreational Center; Morgan County Commission on Aging; Morgan County Courthouse; The Old State Bank; Point Mallard Park Entrance; Rose Garden at Delano Park and Turner Surles Community Center
Hotels/Apartments/Condos: Danville Park Apartments (Honorable Mention); Granada Apartments and Microtel Inn & Suites
Restaurants: Burger King-Sixth Avenue/Beltline Road; Chick-fil-A; The Corner Bakery & Eatery; Red Lobster Restaurant and Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers-Beltline Road.