$70,000-plus in grants aim to beautify Lee County

TUPELO – A first impression is often lasting, and Lee County wants to make sure visitors like what they see.
To that end, more than $70,000 in grants will help plant more than 1,500 trees at key locations across the county.
Grant money totaling $74,116 is being provided by the Mississippi Forestry Commission and the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
The “Beautification Brings Business” project was initiated last year by the Community Development Foundation and the Lee County Council of Governments.
“It’s not frivolous at all to be planting trees,” said Sherman Mayor Ben Logan. “By doing this we are leading by example. It’s the highest and best use of property when it’s beautiful to the eye.”
In Sherman, 282 trees will be planted at the U.S. Highway 78 and Mississippi Highway 9 interchange, which Logan says is the “focal gateway” for Toyota.
In Tupelo, as part of a $20,000 Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Challenge Grant, 658 trees will be planted at the Highway 45 and Highway 78 interchange. Planting of the Autumn Blaze red maples, loblolly pines, Natchez crape myrtles and Tuscarora crape myrtles will begin this week to serve as a demonstration project for the other cities.
The trees have been bought from Mid-South Nursery and Garden Center in Tupelo and are ready to be planted, Mayor Jack Reed said.
Each city is responsible for planting and upkeep of the trees, said Rick Olson, urban and community forestry coordinator with the MFC.
“The trees have to be living after three years and there must be an 80 percent survival rate,” he said.
Planting the trees “provides a way for communities to revitalize our highways and our neighborhoods … trees provide gifts for us and our communities year after year,” Olson said.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal