Westport businesses that put a little extra effort into maintaing the beauty of their properties were recognized by the town ceremony on Wednesday afternoon. The Beautification Awards ceremony, an annual event, took place in the lobby of Westport Town Hall.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff and co-chairmen Angela Trucks and Nancy Carr presented this year's winners with a certificate of appreciation.

"We want residents to be aware that there are business and people who really care about how the town looks," said Trucks, who has co-chaired the committee for seven years. "These awards are about consistency of effort. It is not just a flash in the pan. They are consistent."

The awards are given to businesses that have colorful plantings, trees, decorative urns, benches, attractive lighting and cohesive signs on their property. Kandrak said the society also looks at owners' commitment to beautification of their properties.

This year the winners were: the Westport Garden Club "Beach Buds" for the garden at the entrance of Compo Beach; Sterling Investment Partners on behalf of Fairway Market for donating money to allow flags to fly on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge year-round; Imperial Avenue Holdings LLC for the meticulous care and perennial plantings at the commercial property it owns at 25 Imperial Ave.; the Westport Woman's Club for the development of the gazebo area on its property; and Kowalsky Brothers Inc., the owners of the Freshmarket Shopping Center on Post Road, for its work in renovating the buildings and gardens on the property.

Trucks said people like to come to Westport because it is a "beautiful town," and the effort by the winners "enhances that."

Joseloff said many people think of beautification awards as "la-di-da," but really, he said, the committee is one of the more important in town.

He said town businesses are "something almost everyone looks at, and when they see something amiss I get calls and the committee gets calls."

The winners, he said, "contribute out of community spirit, but really do spend some money to do it."

Joseloff said it is a good idea to give out the awards and recognize the "small efforts," made by businesses to encourage others to do the same.

"In these tough economic times, keeping the town beautifiul is much more difficult," said Joseloff.

The Westport Garden Club is run by Lori Meinke and garden designer Linda Bruce. Its "Beach Buds" division created and now maintains the garden area at the entrance of Compo Beach.

Another award winner was Imperial Avenue Holdings, owned by Watts Wacker and Roger Leifer. Wacker gave the credit to Flowers by Michele owner, Michele Lamoureux, who planted and designed the front of the office building.

"You need to engange into the community," Wacker said. "This is a way we feel we can give back. People pull into our driveway and just say, `Thank you.' It is a gift to our town."

The Westport Woman's Club President Mary Wells-Vickery passed on credit to other members of the club, including garden designer Janette Duchnicki for the beauty that the gazebo area has provided, also on Imperial Avenue. The committee said it chose the Woman's Club property because the replanting of the gardens there was a very large project and they were able to keep the planting in-line with the period of the historic home.

Audrey Hertzle, who has worked at Sterling Investment Partners, said she asked the chairman of Fairway Market, Charles Santoro, to donate money to keep the flags flying over the Steinkrause Cohen Bridge after she learned budget cuts would reduce the amount of time the flags were up to holidays. Hertzle said Santoro told her he would do one better, by ensuring that the funds would be available for the flags to fly permanently.

The Westport Beautification Committee is a group of residents appointed by the first selectman for a two-year term. It is a volunteer committee with a mission to make Westport a charming place to live, work and call home. The committee began in 1968 and had a short hiatus when no awards were handed out.

"There really is a consensus among the committee when picking the winners," said Trucks. "There are always some differences, but we manage to pick five winners."

To make nominations for next year, contact Barbara Kandrak at 203-581-3926.