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Dedication held for Lt. Boutte

By Geoff Belcher

Sea Coast Echo

The Bay Waveland Garden Club, Bay St. Louis City Council and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office last week unveiled a plaque dedicating a historic Live oak tree at the Depot grounds in honor of the late Lt. Michael Boutte.

Boutte, who served with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, was killed in the line of duty on Feb. 1 after responding to a call in the Necaise Community.

“The tree continues to give life to so many of us,” Anita Warner, the garden club member who spearheaded the effort to honor Boutte, said Friday. “It cleans the air. It provides shade. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”

Guests on hand for the presentation included Boutte’s widow, Jennifer Boutte; Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam; Bay Councilman-at-Large Gary Knoblock; Ward 4 Councilman Kyle Lewis; Ward 2 Councilman Gene Hoffman; and Mayor Mike Favre.

Warner said she at first considered honoring Boutte by planting a tree, but then determined it would be more appropriate to dedicate an already historic tree in his memory.

While looking at the trees at the Depot, she said, Lonnie Falgout — executive director of the Alice Moseley Folk Art Museum inside the Depot building — helped her find the perfect tree and helped get the city council on board with the request.

“We were really pleased to work with these groups in honoring Michael Boutte in this long-lasting permanent tribute,” Falgout said.

Warner said Lt. Michael Boutte’s tree is nearly 70 feet tall, 12-feet and four inches in circumference, and spreads out more than 115 feet.

“These trees are witness trees,” Warner said. “This tree has been here for 131 years.”Think about all the things it’s seen in this little town right by the train depot. … We thought it would be perfect for Lt. Boutte.”

The tree is now dedicated as the Lt. Michael Boutte tree on the official Live Oak Registry.