By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
PICAYUNE — The City of Picayune began a partnership with Pearl River Central High School this past year in a pilot program to supply its own flowers and greenery for flower beds throughout the city. The program, which has been in the works for two years, became a reality as plants were put in the ground in the median area by Exit 6 on Mississippi Highway 43. On hand for the event were Pearl River Central Assistant Principal and Vocational Director Kelli Beech, Pearl River Central Horticultural Teacher Deborah Morrison, City of Picayune Public Works Director Eric Morris, City of Picayune Grounds and Beautification Director Daryl Smith, along with Grounds and Beautification worker Angela Wood. Morris, said, “This is the brainchild of Daryl Smith. When we began the city beautification initiative, we realized the expense that keeping a community the size of Picayune would demand. We knew we needed to find a way to supply our own greenery and plants to have a shot at making a visual impact each season. At first, we looked into purchasing a green house to grow our plants and it would have required an investment of approximately $2,000. “Daryl suggested we contact PRC and find out about them helping with the project as part of a horticulture curriculum. I applaud him for thinking outside of the box.” Once the program was underway, Smith said he went to the school several times to check on progress and was pleasantly surprised with his interaction with students. “We were excited to see how excited they were. The students really got into the program,” he said. Morrison agreed with Smith and added, “We are so glad that (Smith) sought us out and approached us with this project. The students knew this was their baby and took ownership of it from the beginning. They came in during breaks to check on their plants. It was really fun to see how invested they were. “Now they can pass by and see their work and enjoy the fruit of their labor along with the rest of the community. We are all proud to have played a part in the betterment of our community,” said vice-Principal Beech. Picayune City Manager Jim Luke and Picayune Main Street Manager Reba Beebe both had glowing comments to give about the program and those who participated in it. “We want to express our appreciation for the partnership with PRC in beautifying our city. They have saved our city a total of over $1,500; so it has definitely been a cost saving endeavor for the city and it gives us the capability to expand our city beautification footprint. We will now be able to progress in our goal of cleaning up and beautifying our city,” said Luke. “Our goal and vision is to make Picayune the Fairhope, Ala. of South Mississippi. We are just getting started, just as the city of Fairhope once began with their beautification program 20 years ago. We have a clear vision of where we are headed and are using creative problem solving approaches to financial challenges along the way.” Beebe said, “ A ‘win-win’ project was my first thought, when I heard about the flower project between PRC Students in the Agriscience Department and Daryl Smith’s beautification project for the city. This is a great learning experience for PRC and saved money for the city of Picayune’s beautification budget. “Teaching students about nature from planting seeds and transferring to bigger containers as they grow provided direct hands-on learning for students and also a valuable educational opportunity for both staff and students for years to come,” she said. “We have great prospects for the future and hope for more partnerships like this one as we progress. It is partnerships like this that make it economically viable to expand our beautification efforts,” said Luke.