By Bess Ruff/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The new director of the Tupelo Public Works Department took time out of her busy tic-tac-toe and hangman schedule Monday to oversee maintenance work.
Wearing a yellow workman’s vest with her name on it and a hard hat, “Director for the Day” Paris Lehman, 7, monitored the trimming of bushes and cutting back of branches at Burt Liberty Garden near Crosstown.
Paris said she particularly enjoyed working with the plants because it reminded her of helping her mother in the garden at home.
“I like to see the flowers grow,” she said.
A rising second-grader at Joyner Elementary School, Paris won Public Works’ mascot coloring contest as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the department. As a reward, she got to serve as the department head for a day.
Paris received a special certificate signed by Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and Sid Russell, the actual director of Public Works.
Paris accompanied public works officials to job sites throughout the day. Her main duty was to inspect the Public Works facility on Crossover Road and visit sites to ensure that projects were being done correctly.
In the morning, she watched an excavation job for the installation of a cross-drain pipe on Boggan Drive.
“It was dirty,” Paris said.
Though she wasn’t a fan of the mess, Paris would choose to be in charge of Public Works again.
“You get to tell everybody what to do,” she said.
Her adventures were part of the department’s plan to let people know what Public Works does for the city. Its responsibilities include brush and debris clean up and mosquito control, as well as street, drainage, vehicle and property maintenance.
“We do everything nobody else does,” Russell said.