Grant money sought to spruce up campus

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 12, 2002

Mississippi School of the Arts officials are looking to spruceup the Whitworth College campus with the help of the MississippiForestry Commission and hopefully the state transportationdepartment.

The arts school’s foundation has received a $14,850 Urban andCommunity Forestry Assistance Grant to develop an urban forestplan. The grant, which uses funds from the U.S. Department ofAgriculture, will require a 50 percent local match and most of thatwill be in-kind assistance, school officials said.

The arts school project ranked 17th out of 42 grant requests.Twenty projects received a portion of the $288,000 availablestatewide.

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“It’s highly competitive,” said Dale Brown, area forester andmember of the review panel, about the grant program. “Because ofthe uniqueness of the (art school’s) grant request, we felt like itdeserved a high priority for funding.”

Brown said the best way to start a project is with a plan, andthat factored into the school receiving the grant.

The arts school forest plan calls for the use of trees withinteresting leaf patterns and colors, historic significance, andones that will enhance the character of the campus. Signs for treeidentification and development of a brochure with campus treeinformation, care instructions and other interpretive documentationare also part of the plan.

Jennifer Jackson, arts school director of marketing, said thetree planting project will have important statewide benefits. Inaddition to student and visitor enjoyment, the trees will offereducational opportunities and the possibility of field trips byarea school children.

“The Master Gardeners group is going to be working with them toimplement some phases of the plan,” said Jimminette Phillips, amember of the newly-formed group.

While MFC is helping with the plan, arts school officials willlook to the Mississippi Department of Transportation for help ingetting the actual trees. The school is applying for an up to$15,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant.

“The two dovetail beautifully,” said MSA Executive Director Dr.Vicki Bodenhamer about the two grant requests.

The arts school foundation received the forest grant, but theschool itself will apply for the MDOT grant because the recipienthas to be state agency, Bodenhamer said. The MDOT grant isavailable on a 75 percent state – 25 percent local match basis.

A transportation enhancement grant was used to plant trees alongBrookway Boulevard and Monticello Street last year, Phillipssaid.

“This is a way of using creativity and imagination to get thingsdone,” Phillips said.

The application deadline for the MDOT grant is Aug. 15 andschool officials should know in September in they will receivefunding. In addition to other criteria, Brown said use of urbanspace for trees and visibility will be factors in the selectionprocess.

“You can’t get much more visibility than in downtownBrookhaven,” Brown said.