Beautification position sought; Groups seeking revival of city horticulturalist

Published 12:11 am Monday, December 15, 2014

NATCHEZ After exhausting volunteer time and talents, the Adams County Master Gardeners believe a new horticulturalist position could change things for the better.

The position, which once existed in the City of Natchez, will help oversee the existing trees and planting of new trees that are along the bluff and in Memorial Park, while overseeing the maintenance of past projects, said Keep Natchez-Adams County Beautiful member Stephanie Hutchins who brought the matter before the Natchez Board of Aldermen at last week’s meeting.

The Community Alliance, an organization that oversees smaller non-profits by providing the legal framework for select groups, assisted the Master Gardeners throughout various projects.

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“The Master Gardeners came to the Community Alliance and asked for help with one little project,” Hutchins said. “The work they did was so beautiful for the city, that the project exploded and led to the downtown beautification project, which was all of the new and old tree wells replacing the ones on Main and Franklin streets.”

Hutchins said volunteers and civic organizations assisted with the projects, an effort which was done for the love for the city.

A horticulturalist position could help volunteers keep Natchez beautiful, while allowing them to focus on teaching, Hutchins said.

“We have several groups of volunteers that keep Natchez beautiful and they are doing an amazing job,” said Mississippi State University Extension Service Director David Carter. “To me, to have true community-wide beautification, we need a full time person overseeing projects.

“Although (Master Gardeners) is volunteer driven, I think that it is beneficial to have a full time horticulturalist position for the city.”

Although Hutchins would like to see a fully certified horticulturalist position in place, Hutchins said the Master Gardeners would be more than willing to train someone for the position.

“This person could assist with other people at public works to learn from the Master Gardeners and take education courses on there own to maintain all of the work that has been done,” Hutchins said. “We need the city to step up and help us put our best foot forward so we can help our volunteers.

“The (volunteers) mission is not labor, their mission is more geared toward education.”

Dunleith general manager and Community Alliance member John Holyoak expressed his concerns for a new horticulturalist position.

“(Volunteers) don’t won’t to be the point person,” said Holyoak. “They want to be able to come and go and volunteer and teach.”

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneux-Mathis said she understands the Community Alliance and Master Gardeners needs, but would like time to take the matter into consideration with the board.