The wide bounty of Knoxville’s beauty was honored Tuesday night at the Keep Knoxville Beautiful Orchids Awards. East, North, South, West, downtown and Fort Sanders all earned beautification honors in the 39th annual event.
The awards presentation and dinner, a fundraiser for Keep Knoxville Beautiful, brought a crowd of about 300 to The Standard, 416 W. Jackson Ave. Environmentalists rubbed shoulders with politicians, community volunteers chatted with city employees, architects broke bread with Realtors, and rival restaurateurs lifted glasses to each other.
It was fun for all as KKB bestowed awards, thanked partners and celebrated its achievements of 2017, which included 59 cleanups, 57,515 pounds of garbage picked up, 20,000-plus tulip and daffodil bulbs and 101 trees planted, and 1,507 students reached by presentations. And 1,936 volunteers put in 5,206 hours to aid the nonprofit’s efforts.
Last year’s Orchids established the Felicia Award, presenting it to its namesake, Felicia Harris Hoehne, to honor an individual who exemplifies KKB’s mission to promote a cleaner and greener Knoxville. This year’s award went to Fran Nichols.
Nichols, who worked for the city for many years and retired as assistant director in the Public Works Department, became involved with KKB through her job and after retirement served on the board for six years. “She has been a lifetime advocate of our mission,” said KKB executive director Alanna McKissack after the presentation.
Other award winners:
- Redesign/Reuse – The Tennessean luxury condos and hotel
- Outdoor Space – Baker Creek Preserve in South Knoxville and the Marble Hall and Pavilion at Lakeshore Park
- New Architecture – the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Scripps Addition and the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors
- Public Art – Zoo Knoxville’s gateway
- Restaurant/Café/Bar/Brewery – Elkmont Exchange and SoKno Taco Cantina
- Environmental Stewardship – City of Knoxville’s Public Works Complex
- Mary Lou Horner Beautification Award (for a former Orchid winner whose property remains Orchid worthy) – Knoxville Botanical Garden & Arboretum
Judges for the awards were Mary Campbell, University of Tennessee School of Art; Leslie Fawaz, East Tennessee Community Design Center; Alan Sims, Inside of Knoxville; Marshall Stair, Knoxville City Council member; and Anne Wallace, City of Knoxville Office of Redevelopment deputy director.
Featured speaker Erin Gill, head of the city’s Office of Sustainability, talked about the importance of partnerships in beautifying and reducing energy use in Knoxville. “We thrive when we partner,” she said.
She pointed to the success of Pace Bikes and Visit Knoxville; the “Kudzu Kids,” goats that chow down on invasive species; and the KEEM (Knoxville Extreme Energy Makeover) program, which partnered with the youth-engagement program SEEED.
She praised Mayor Madeline Rogero’s environmental leadership, including her co-chairing role in the group Climate Mayors. Gill said her office’s current main project – the citywide LED streetlight retrofitting program, which will replace 30,000 lights – will save $2 million a year.
KKB started focusing on a community of the year two years ago with South Knoxville. Wrapping up its year at the end of June will be East Knoxville. McKissack announced that North Knoxville will become the 2018-19 community of the year in July.