Downtown Johnstown, Inc., will hold a twice-a-month contest for downtown village businesses starting June 18.

Downtown Johnstown, Inc., will hold a twice-a-month contest for downtown village businesses starting June 18.

The contest encourages business owners to keep their front property neat and clean. A judge from DJI will walk around all the businesses and decide which property is the most dapper.

Winning businesses will get their pictures in The Independent.

DJI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration and revitalization of the downtown district of Johnstown. Its vice president, Sharon Hendren, said the contest is "just trying to improve upon Johnstown, to beautify it.

"To keep their sidewalk clean and sweep out in front of their business and plant flowers there - we thought this would be a good way to do it," she said.

Hendren said the idea came about during Clean Sweep Day on May 21, when volunteers spruced up Johnstown near town hall.

"We thought, 'Oh, these flowerpots all need flowers,'" Hendren said.

She said it would also be a great way for business owners to help get ready for the village bicentennial in 2013.

DJI design committee head Elizabeth Schwartz will judge the businesses.

She's a master gardener, but she said when choosing the winning business, she'll mainly look to see how owners maintained their property.

"I would be interested to seeing, one, how excited they got and, two, keeping their pots pretty and sprucing up the area outside and overall cleanliness and their excitement about downtown Johnstown," Schwartz said.

Her main concern is trying to get the business owners together and show enthusiasm for the contest.

"We really want to revitalize downtown and we want to get the businesses excited about their businesses," Schwartz said.

"This would be a really neat way for businesses to get excited about it and possibly get on board with keeping downtown clean and making it pretty."

Schwartz said DJI is applying for a matching state grant for streetscape projects to spruce up the area as well.

"We're really hoping Johnstown as we know it is getting better," Schwartz said.

Hendren said the contest is just one way residents will judge Johnstown.

"When people come through to use the bike path or for many different reasons, they always notice towns and you judge a town by its cleanliness, flowers, flags hanging. I mean, it really makes a difference in how you judge a town," Hendren said.

Business owners interested in participating can call Schwartz for more information at 614-565-6433 or have their property all spruced up by June 18.