Summer Beauty for City a Matter of Teamwork

The purple wave petunias and gold lantana peeking out above Dixie and Mahler Avenue lampposts have grown from a small seed of an idea into a large city beautification project.

Kim Sells of the Putnam County Clean Commission had the idea and obtained the grant, but teamwork among Tennessee Tech University, the Putnam County Master Gardeners, City of Cookeville, Wal-Mart, Burgess Falls Nursery and Cookeville CityScape brought the 75 flowering baskets to fruition.

"It just goes to show what a little ingenuity, a lot of coordination and a shared desire for the betterment of this community can accomplish," said Sells. "It's one thing to have an idea that sounds great in theory, but to make something like this work, we needed the help of many different organizations and people."

To provide the simple pleasure of flowers for those who drive or walk Dixie Avenue through Tennessee Tech's campus, a diverse group cooperated on the project. Sells secured a $500 EarthDay grant from Wal-Mart, which the university matched. The Master Gardeners, a group sponsored by the University of Tennessee's Extension Office, volunteered to construct and care for the baskets.

Burgess Falls Nursery offered a coordination site for putting the baskets together and donated replacement flowers for early casualties of the heat. The City of Cookeville donates a water truck for weekly watering. CityScape and UT Extension Office's Scott Chadwell facilitate the project as a downtown revitalization effort.

The Master Gardeners have the continuing responsibility of watering and fertilizing the flowers every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Atop the city's truck, they water with a 7-foot wand designed and made by TTU graphic artist Ed Vail.

The flowers are not only the university colors, but are Tennessee Select products designated as flowers that should thrive in the Tennessee growing region.

"This project is a perfect example of how private-public partnerships can be successfully built with amazing results," said Melinda Keifer, CityScape director. "It also shows how one effort can lead to ideas and investments by others. 

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