2020 Beautification awards

Published 10:17 pm Tuesday, February 16, 2021

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Polk County Appearance Commission presents 2020 awards

TRYON—This year’s Beautification awards for Polk County all came from Tryon. 

The Polk County Appearance Commission recently presented the beautification awards for 2020 to the Harry Dallara Baseball Field at Harmon Field, the improvements and mural at the open-air gym at Harmon Field and the mural of Nina Simone at the Sunoco station. 

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Polk County Appearance Commission Chair Joe Cooper said even though 2020 was a difficult year, but even in these trying times a number of important improvements were made to beautify the county. 

The Appearance Commission began giving the awards in 2011 to thank and honor residents for their contributions to beautify the county. 

The awards are given annually to projects that the general public can see from public roads or sidewalks or on a property that is open to the public, either private or publicly owned. 

“It’s important for our county to look like a great place to live, do business and visit so that more of our people can support their families with local jobs here in Polk County,” Cooper said. “Our vision is for all of the roadsides, buildings and public areas in Polk County to be Clean, Beautiful and Inviting.” 

All the recipients received a framed certificate of appreciation. 

Harmon Field is a 46-acre recreation complex owned by the Town of Tryon. The Harry Dallara Foundation made significant improvements at a baseball field at Harmon Field, including a bronze statue of Harry Dallara and a plaque honoring the Tryon All Stars, who brought considerable recognition in the 1940s to Tryon but were denied playing at Harmon Field because of segregation issues at the time. 

The other award at Harmon Field went to Matt Lassiter, who continued his son, Mason Lassiter’s project at the open-air gym after his death. Mason Lassiter loved playing basketball at the open-air gym and raised money to renovate the gym for his senior project. After his death, his family and friends continued the project and replaced the courts, installed new goals and had a mural painted by Asheville muralist Dustin Spagnola. 

The final award is another public art project that visitors and residents can enjoy, Cooper said. A large mural of Nina Simone, native of Tryon, was painted on the west wall of the Sunoco station at the corner of U.S. 176 and Highway 108. Born Eunice Waymon, Simone was a singer, songwriter, pianist and civil rights activist. 

The mural was done by Chapel Hill artist Scott Nurkin and partially paid for by the Town of Tryon. 

Cooper said other improvements were made to the visual appeal in Polk County in 2020 and deserve honorable mention. 

One is the parking area and trails at Woodland Park in Tryon, which was improved by the volunteers on the Tryon Parks Committee. 

The other honorable mention went to the entry of the 1935 Stearns Gym in Columbus. Cooper said the gym is an important part of the recreation department and the entry now has new plants and flower beds. 

“All of these winners have set excellent examples of what we mean when we say Clean, Beautiful and Inviting,” Cooper said. “The people of Polk County are better off because of their efforts.”