Published: Nov 22, 2011 09:45 PM
Modified: Nov 22, 2011 09:44 PM
Keith Bliss was not an experienced gardener when the idea for a community garden in the heart of historic Cary came to him and his wife last year.
But Bliss, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty, had the skills to get the project organized, and the space for the garden, a 100-by-60-foot plot behind a rental property at 112 Dry Ave.
The 2011 Cary Hometown Spirit Award-winner has also had plenty of opportunities to improve his gardening skills, putting in long hours keeping Cary's Pocket Garden going.
Bliss' work at the garden, as well as the myriad other Cary organizations he volunteers with, not to mention his work, keep him extremely busy. But Bliss said he has good reason to give his time.
"Surrounded by so many people giving back to the community, it's only natural that I would want to find my own way," Bliss said. "I'm doing all this because I want to se a good example for my kids."
Bliss and his wife Gioia have three children, ages 8, 5 and 2.
Bliss' connection to the historic district goes back before the community garden. He renovated a house at 115 Dry Ave. for his real estate office, winning the 2008 Anthemion Award through Capital Area Preservation. He also serves on the board for the Page-Walker House, where he was married.
The Hometown Spirit Award goes to a recipient who helps fellow Cary residents, shows a concern for preservation, promotes entrepreneurship and promotes a sense of community, among other criteria.
Bliss and the other nominees were honored before Thursday's Town Council meeting with a banquet of hot dogs from Ashworth Drugs.
He said he hadn't prepared any remarks because he hadn't expected to win with such strong nominees.
Also nominated were: Mary Lou Addor, president of the Colonial Townes Homeowner Association; Kerry Beach, who has put together fundraisers for muscular dystrophy treatment; and Scott Korbin, who as of 2010 owned four of the 36 designated historic homes in downtown.
Originally from Connecticut, Bliss moved to Cary in 1995, working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to study real estate. He officially started his business on Sept. 11, 2001.
Sheila Ogle, who nominated Bliss for the Hometown Spirit Award, said she was impressed by the renovations he has done to the historic house that is his office and his work with Cary's Pocket Garden.
"I thought that he embodied a great person who has great amount of community spirit." Ogle said. "It was so exciting to see him take that spot and turn it into something for the community."