Bessemer Beautification Board lays down new roots

Beautification Board members take part in a tree planting on April 22, 2017 at McNeil Park.

On Saturday, April 22, 2017, about 20 eager souls descended upon McNeil Park for a tree planting project organized by the Bessemer’s newly reinstituted Beautification Board. It was the first time in at least 15 years an active Beautification Board had organized a project in the city. Thanks to a $990 donation from the Alabama Power Foundation’s Good Roots Grant program, the board planted six Willow Oak trees and one Crape Myrtle tree at the park in coordination with residents from the Pipe Shop community. A donation from Lowe’s Home Improvement of Bessemer provided flowers, shovels and gloves. The trees were purchased at TotalScape Farms in Bessemer and delivered free of charge. World Exit Ministries sent six additional volunteers to help on the project. Mayor Kenneth E. Gulley, Council president Jesse Matthews and councilmembers Ron Marshall and Cynthia Donald participated in the event as  well. “The first initiative was a great success,” said board secretary Brenda Williams. “It united people from diverse backgrounds to work toward a common goal – beautifying the community. “It built camaraderie and teamwork and enhanced the appearance of McNeil Park,” she said. The Bessemer Beautification Board was first organized in the late 70s and operated for several years before going defunct. Current board vice-president Donald Jay Howton served previously on the board and, along with current board member Sarah Beasley, petitioned Mayor Gulley to re-institute the board. A new ordinance was adopted by the City Council in late 2015 to re-institute the board and in Spring 2016, the first meeting was held. Today, the Beautification Board has 11 members from various areas of the city. The board serves in an advisory capacity to the Mayor and Council on issues of beautification and hopes to engage in several projects, including beautification of city parks and bringing back recognitions such as Yard of the Month. Appointments to the board are made through the Mayor’s Office.  Member terms’ are four years or until the expiration of the Mayor’s term in office. Williams said she joined the board because it gives her an opportunity to build cooperation between the public and private sectors in beautifying Bessemer and gives her an opportunity to give back. She said the board can impact the city by encouraging others to volunteer in beautifying the city and increase public awareness on beautification of Bessemer. If you are interested in serving on the board, contact the Mayor’s Office at 204-424-4060.