Winners of 2021 Palatine Hometown Pride Awards recognized
Palatine's Hometown Pride Awards are given out every year, and each time it's a great enjoyment for the winners and those in charge of the judging alike.
"It's so much fun," said Pat Fluhler, who has served on the village's beautification commission for 19 years, the last two as chairwoman. "I call it 'the pretty committee' because we have so much fun."
Now in its 28th year, the awards go to the best examples of attractive gardening and landscaping throughout the village. There are categories for single-family homes, multifamily homes, cul-de-sacs/subdivisions, businesses, and "doors of Palatine."
The latter was added about eight years ago after the "doors of Ireland" tradition, where people paint and decorate doors creatively, Fluhler said.
The village begins soliciting entries for the awards in May via its website, as well as signs posted downtown and at the farmers market. Residents and business owners can nominate themselves or anyone else by submitting a photo.
The seven members of the beautification commission then score the entries on a scale of 1 to 5 for features such as color, style and diversity. The commissioners do their best not to be influenced by the qualify of the photos, which can vary greatly, Fluhler said.
"It's hard to get a good photo. Sometimes we drive around to see, to get a better glimpse."
The winners -- sometimes picked after a second tiebreaking round of voting -- are recognized by the village council. Mayor Jim Schwantz did so at the board meeting Monday.
"Some people have taken on the task of making Palatine even more beautiful than it is each and every day," he said.
The first-place award winners this year were: Glenna and Larry Schneider, 1207 W. Whytecliff Road, in the single-family home category; Richard Scalzo, 162 S. Stonington Drive, in the multifamily home category; The Benchmark of Palatine in the cul-de-sac/subdivision category; Loberg Construction, 311 E. Illinois Ave., in the business category; and Laura Barnett, 712 S. White Willow Bay, in the "doors of Palatine" category.
This year there were 42 entries, a great turnout given that people's lives are still upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fluhler said.
E. John Loberg, president of Loberg Construction, said the company was thrilled to get the award. Its landscaping was done by M & B Landscaping of Palatine.
"We feel it is our responsibility to represent this community positively and continuously strive to ensure we contribute to the beauty of this city. Our motto is, we do whatever it takes to get the job done," Loberg said.
Picking the winners definitely is tough, Fluhler said.
"Everybody (on the commission) has got a little bit of different taste," she said.
She credited the help of Elias Koutas, deputy manager of public works, and Britta Higgins, who also works in public works.
"It's a team effort with the village," she said.
Despite the abundance of nominations, there are plenty of worthy candidates in town that don't get nominated each year, she said.
"I see so many more gorgeous yards (in town) and I'm like, 'Why didn't you enter?'"