By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times
The Itawamba County courthouse is going to receive a bit of sprucing up in the near future.
During their most recent meeting, the Itawamba County Board of Supervisors voted to purchase seasonal plants and a new park-style bench for the courthouse in downtown Fulton. The expenses are estimated at approximately $2,500. Work on planting the seasonal flowers will be performed by an area non-profit group, the Fulton Community Volunteers.
The bench will match those found in downtown Fulton’s Playgarden Park and will be anchored into concrete near the courthouse flagpoles.
This is the second time the county board has worked with the FCV to tidy up the outside of the courthouse. Last year, the board approved the expenses of having the courthouse and its walkways pressure washed, the trees and bushes pruned and seasonal flora planted. All of that work was either performed or overseen by members of the FCV.
FCV member Federal Judge Sharion Aycock appeared before the board to request the funds to purchase seasonal plants and the new bench, both of which she said will help the appeal of the courthouse area.
“This is the county seat,” she told the board. “This should be the prettiest place in Itawamba County. This should be the showcase.”
She also suggested the board strongly consider hiring someone to perform year-round maintenance on the courthouse grounds. While the grounds are mowed regularly through the spring and summer months, no landscaping or other maintenance work is performed in either the fall or winter. In those months, the area can become messy quickly.
Recently, the Fulton Community Volunteers raked the area around the courthouse and filled 42 contractor garbage bags full of leaves and acorns. Aycock said those should have been collected long before now.
“It just doesn’t look good,” she said, adding that having a bunch of acorns scattered on walkways also poses a liability issue. If someone should slip and fall, the county would have a lawsuit to handle.
Additionally, because all those leaves and acorns were allowed to fall and remain on the walkways for weeks at a time, the concrete has already become stained again, completely negating the earlier pressure washing.
Aycock said the board would save money on pressure washing by hiring someone to perform basic landscaping and maintenance all year.
“You need someone who isn’t just going to mow in the summers, but will also rake in the winter,” she said. “It’s just as important to rake those leaves and acorns in the winter as it is to mow the grass in the summer.
“When it’s in its best shape, I really believe courthouse landscaping could be maintained with three hours of work each week,” she added. “I don’t think we’re talking a whole lot of money here.”
The board agreed that hiring a regular landscaper is an idea worth pursuing and requested Aycock to get some price estimates.
In addition to her suggestions for the immediate future, Aycock advised the board to consider installing lighting around the courthouse in the near future … something that would be both practical and aesthetically attractive.
“There’s a lot of beautiful things that can be done with lighting,” she said, adding that proper lighting would help draw attention to the courthouse, making it the focus of downtown Fulton.
County Administrator Gary Franks said better lighting would also help deter vandalism in the area.
The board made no motion to either purchase lighting or obtain cost estimates, but seemed willing to consider it for the future.