New Albany wins Urban Forestry Community of the Year Award

Mayor Tim Kent and Community Development Director Billye Jean Stroud, left, accept the award from Executive Director Donna Yowell. At far left is Coen Perrot of the Department of Environmental Quality, which funds the Celebration of Trees awards.
November 7th, 2019     Business

The Mississippi Urban Forest Council presented its Scenic Community of the Year Award to the City of New Albany Thursday.

The award was among several announced at the Council’s program on sustainability at the New Albany Civic Center Thursday and Friday.

A range of city officials, landscapers, urban forestry professionals and park and recreation staff came from different parts of the state as far away as the Gulf Coast to hear about the importance of the so-called urban forest in making communities sustainable as well as attractive.

Community Development Director Billye Jean Stroud holds the award.

In presenting the award to Mayor Tim Kent and Community Development Director Billye Jean Stroud, Council Executive Director Donna Yowell said it originated from talks with then-First Lady Pat Fordice and was funded by the Department of Environmental Quality.

Communities are nominated for the award and then scored in a variety of categories.

Also recognized were arboretums in Terry and Pearl, a lifetime achievement award for David Knight of Tupelo, the Governor’s Award to the City of Greenwood and other awards to Brandon, Indianola and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Yowell told the group she has been here before, serving as keynote speaker for one of the home and garden shows several years ago and was happy to be back.

“I just fell in love with this little town,” she said. “It is so charming and the food is fabulous, they’ve got great shopping, they’ve got the trails and they have all these miniature gardens all up and down Main Street and the Main Street folks here do a fabulous job.”

“And I hope you get a lot of support on the tree initiative because that will just help your sales tax grow, which is very important,” she added.

“Thank y’all for being here. It’s a great honor,” Mayor Kent said in accepting the award. “And to be honest it’s a battle to plant trees where they have not been planted before but it’s worth the fight and this lady standing right here, she can fight.”  Referring to Stroud, Kent continued, “It says the City of New Albany but she did most of the work so this goes to her.”

Among other speakers, the group heard from city planner Bob Barber, who is working on plans for New Albany, and Robert Ballard, who owns Camp Creek Plants here and specializes in native plants.

The two-day event was to conclude Friday with a mobile workshop involving walking along the Tanglefoot Trail and led by Betsey Hamilton.

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