St. Martinville - Several members of the St. Martinville Garden Club got a huge surprise this week at the Louisiana Garden Club Federation convention in Lake Charles, when they were informed that St. Martinville had been awarded first place in Category F of District III in the state-wide Cleanest City contest, a project of the Club and the City of St. Martinville.

It seemed to be the consensus that the award was made possible due to community wide-involvement, one of the main criteria of the competition.  In fact, city and parish workers along with trustees from the Sheriff’s Dept worked in the rain in the days leading to the judging on April 17.  Students from all of the city’s schools, including Trinity Catholic, St. Martinville Primary, Middle and Senior High Schools and South Louisiana Community College, as well as members of local organizations, showed up en masse prior to the regional contest to paint stripes, pick up trash and plant flowers.

Courtney Belaire, a 3rd grade student at St. Martinville Primary, produced the winning slogan for the Trash Bash and the Cleanest City Contest, which summed up the community’s participation:  Green is clean let’s be a team.

Parks and Recreation Director Glenda Kately Sonnier, a veteran of over 20 years heading up the City’s efforts, was very excited.  We couldn’t have done it without Nelson Stewart’s and Allen Blanchard’s crews with the city, along with Percy Meaux’ crew from the Sheriff’s Department and parish workers sent by President Guy Cormier.  Those men are dedicated, hard workers, and it was a privilege to work with them.”

Mayor Thomas Nelson agreed.  “This is such an honor, especially because the whole community was involved.  We just want to thank everyone who participated, from the students, to the city and parish work crews, to Sheriff Ronnie Theriot’s people, to the St. Martinville Garden Club members and all of the citizens of St. Martinville who pitched in and cleaned up their neighborhoods.

Sonnier and Nelson both mentioned the contribution of Danielle Fontenette, St. Martinville’s Main Street Manager.  “According to Mayor Nelson, “Danielle was the one who identified the critical spots that we needed to work on to make this happen, and then made it happen.”

“I think it`s just absolutely wonderful,” gushed Cleanest City Chairman for the Garden Club, Susan Carpenter.  “We won because the Mayor, the City of St. Martinville, the citizens and the schools did their best to win this award.  The students did an amazing job of helping with trash bash, poster contests, and recycling art projects.  It was an all-out city effort to showcase our charming little bedroom community.”

Other cities who competed in Category F and their rankings:

St. Martinville              1st

Rayne                          2nd

Covington                    3rd

Winnfield                     4th

Tallulah                       5th

Mayor Nelson added, “I would also like to congratulate the other cities who participated.  We can all be very proud!”  According to the State Cleanest City Contest committee, all the cities have earned the right to be named "Clean Cities"  by having scored 90 or above.

The contest is sponsored annually by the Louisiana Garden Club Federation, Inc.  Judging took place on April 17, 2015.  St. Martinville was named the 1st place winner in the regional contest which took place in March.  A formal presentation will be made to the city in the coming weeks.  In more recent times, the City also won the state-wide contest in 1998, 2006 and 2007.

In 1958, the Louisiana Garden Club Federation was first among members of the National Garden Clubs, Inc. to sponsor a state wide “Cleanest City Contest.” The aim of the contest is to instill civic pride in the individual citizens and thus, improve the appearance of towns and cities. and beautiful.