By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
Toledo’s time as an All-America City is coming to a close.
The National Civic League has announced the 30 finalists for the 1999 award, and Toledo is not among them. The city did not apply this year.
“The league says that we should spend a year celebrating the award,” said mayoral spokesman Mary Chris Skeldon. “We’ll enter again next year.”
Toledo was named an All-America City at the 1998 competition in Mobile, Ala. The city’s year in the sun will end on June 26, when this year’s 30 finalists will be whittled down to 10 winners at a ceremony in Philadelphia.
The finalists will be judged on their commitment to grassroots citizen involvement and collaborative problem solving. This year’s contest will be the 50th annual. It is co-sponsored by the Allstate Insurance Co.
None of the finalists is from Ohio or Michigan. Only two cities from each of the two states – Warren and Grove City from Ohio, Farmington Hills and Big Rapids from Michigan – applied for the award.
The finalists nearest to Toledo are Lancaster, Pa., and Oak Park and Joliet, Ill.
National Civic League spokesman David Rein lauded Toledo for doing an excellent job promoting the award throughout the last year.
“They made quite a big deal of it,” he said. All city employees were instructed to answer the phone, “Welcome to Toledo, your All-America City,” Mr. Rein said.
In fact, he said Toledo officials have been asked to give a workshop at this year’s awards competition to assist the winners in making the most of their new title.
Under National Civic League rules, a past winner of the award can continue to use the All-America City logo and name on signs and on documents, but only if the year of the award is attached as well. In other words, Mr. Rein said, the city’s employees could say, “Welcome to Toledo, your 1998 All-America City.”
Ms. Skeldon said a final determination has not been made on what to do about the city’s All-America title after its year has ended.
No city has won the award in two consecutive years since Kansas City did it in 1950 and 1951.
1999 finalists: Safford, Ariz., Scottsdale, Ariz., Fresno, Calif., Napa, Calif., Santa Clarita, Calif., Stockton, Calif., Union City, Calif., Lower Naugatuck Valley, Conn., Tallahassee, Fla., Joliet, Ill., Oak Park, Ill., Wellington, Kans., Wichita, Kans., Shreveport, La., Greater Montgomery, Md.
Other finalists are Lowell, Mass., Worcester, Mass., Brooklyn Park, Minn., Moorhead, Minn., Tupelo, Miss., Hickory, N.C., Morganton, N.C., Rocky Mount, N.C., Lancaster, Pa., Memphis, Tenn., Tri-Cities, Tenn./Va., Bryan, Tex., Taylor, Tex., Pearland, Tex., Greater Green Bay, Wis.