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Posted on Sat. Jun. 20, 2009 - 06:00 am EDT

City reaches summit: 3rd All-America title

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Fort Wayne is a Hall of Fame city.

The city captured its third All-America City Award on Friday night at the National Civic League's annual competition in Tampa, Fla.

Winning the award three times puts a community into the association's Hall of Fame. Fort Wayne, which won in 1982 and 1998, has applied for the award eight times and been a finalist four times.

Another Indiana city, Richmond, was among the 10 award winners. South Bend, the only other Hoosier finalist, did not win.

Kerri Przemielewski, local steering-committee chair, said the recognition shows Fort Wayne is a community that knows how to take on challenges and work together.

"Every citizen of this community should be proud because they've all contributed to make us an All-American City," she said.

According the National Civic League, the award is the original and most prestigious community recognition.

Przemielewski said previous winners have had economic development result from the award. She also said some people when choosing a home prefer to live in All-America cities.

"It's a sense of pride, really," she said.

Przemielewski said the city will market its win in the near future, but final plans have not yet been made on how to do so.

To apply for the award, the city had to submit three community projects to address local challenges, one of which had to focus on the needs of young people.

The first challenge is the city's refugee population, and the city highlighted numerous organizations, including Catholic Charities and Matthew 25, that have helped provide needed services. The second project involves the city's efforts to expand its trail system to improve recreation and health. The third project is the Allen Superior Court Great Kids Make Great Communities, which helps train people who work with youths.

Other All-America cities named Friday were Phoenix; Inglewood, Calif.; Wichita, Kan.; Somerville, Mass.; Albany, N.Y.; Kinston, N.C.; Statesville, N.C.; and Caroline County, Va.

Michael Zennie of The Journal Gazette contributed to this report.

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