County to plant trees downtown with timber harvest funds

Published 12:13 am Tuesday, May 21, 2013

NATCHEZ — Adams County will apparently use the money it got for cutting down trees at the former Belwood Country Club to plant more trees.

It’s not the first time the topic has been discussed, but Monday the Adams County Board of Supervisors made a soft commitment to use a significant portion of the funds generated by the timber harvest on the industrial property to pay for crepe myrtles, which will be planted in the downtown Natchez area as part of a county beautification effort.

Elaine Gemmell with the Adams County Master Gardeners and John Holyoak with the Community Alliance asked the supervisors for a $12,000 donation to help fund the two groups’ ongoing effort to repair or cut tree wells and plant them with crepe myrtles around the city.

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So far, the project has cost $30,000, all of which — with the exception of $5,000 from the City of Natchez — has been privately raised, Gemmell said.

The $12,000 request would cover the cost of cutting new tree wells and installing trees — as well as some sidewalk and curb repair that needs to be done — on Main Street, she said.

“We have some business owners who said they are not interested in having trees in front of their business, but we are hoping that seeing the Main Street entrance and how it will look will encourage them,” Holyoak said.

Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said the board already had plans to use some of the funds from the tree harvest to buy a sign for the entrance to the Natchez-Adams County Port, and some for beautification purposes at the entrance of the Broadmoor subdivision. Grennell said he had no problem giving the remaining balance to the Master Gardeners.

“We are looking at a balance of $9,000 rather than $12,000, so you can do the process of raising $3,000,” Grennell said.

At Supervisor David Carter’s suggestion, the board also passed a resolution of appreciation for Gemmell for the volunteer work she has done around the community.

In other news:

•The board approved a garbage pickup contract with Waste Pro.

Board Attorney Scott Slover said the contract would cost $9.25 per household per month, with an option for adding another $1.70 per house for recycling should the county decide to add recycling.

It also allows for seniors or those who are disabled to arrange for pickup from their house if they are unable to take their waste to the curb, he said.

The 3.5-year contract comes with the option for two one-year extensions, and contains $5,000 in community contributions, Slover said.

The current rate the county pays Waste Management for pickup is $10.33, and Slover said Waste Management officials told him they were not able to give the county a more competitive rate.

•Carter asked if it would be possible for the county to pave streets inside Natchez city limits.

The county gives the city money every year, he said, but after speaking to an alderman recently Carter said he was unsure if it could be tracked.

“It might be better if we just took that money and used it for paving streets instead of giving it to the city and letting it get diluted every year,” he said.

Natchez City Engineer David Gardner was present at the meeting, and said that though the money may not have gone into street tops, it was used for street projects.

“I know that in the past we have taken that and put it into equipment,” he said. “It may be indirect in some cases with the equipment, but that is what that money is being used for in the public streets. It is something we are counting on in public works to use.”

•The board presented two former employees, Leandrew Gaines and Walter Johnson, with resolutions recognizing them for their years of service.

Gaines worked for the county for 26 years, while Johnson recently retired from the road department after 18 years.

•The supervisors voted to approve Fire Coordinator Stan Owens request that they hire Darryl Smith as assistant fire coordinator at a rate of $38,000 annually with benefits.

The assistant fire coordinator will be tasked with helping volunteer fire departments organize and recruit new members. The supervisors recently voted to accept a plan that would ask volunteer fire departments to respond to all non-structure fire calls outside the Natchez city limits.