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Keep Hall Beautifuls money helps plant trees
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Five local organizations and communities have been awarded grants from Keep Hall Beautiful to purchase and plant new trees.

The money comes from the Tree Replacement Fund, part of the Urban Forestry Project that Keep Hall Beautiful started earlier this year.

The fund will be replenished with proceeds from the annual Spring Chicken Festival.

"We were looking to fund four grants of up to $1,000, but some applicants asked for less than the maximum amount, so we were able to give five grants," said Rick Foote.

Foote, Hall County’s natural resources coordinator, also serves on Keep Hall Beautiful’s board of directors.

"We were pleased with the response we got, considering that this is our first year," he added.

Recipients include the city of Gillsville, Gainesville Care Center, the city of Oakwood, Martin Elementary School and the Hall County Board of Education.

Foote said Gillsville will receive $900 to plant additional trees in its 18-acre city park, mostly around the parking lot and a picnic shelter.

Gainesville Care Center, a nonprofit that helps women in crisis pregnancies, was awarded $250 to plant a tree on its small lot, located in a residential area near the Green Street post office.

In general, grant projects had to be located on public property. But Foote said Gainesville Care Center qualified because it is located within the Green Street designated historic district.

Martin Elementary is getting about $511 to plant trees around the playground and athletic field, as well as in an existing garden that the students created.

"They have recently established a Junior Master Gardeners program, and this will be their latest project," said Foote. "They’ll be putting (species) identification signs on each tree, so it will be educational for all the students."

Oakwood will receive $750 to replace crape myrtles along Mundy Mill Road, where the Georgia Department of Transportation had to remove trees for its expansion of the I-985 interchange.

And the Board of Education, in partnership with Hall County Master Gardeners, is getting $1,000 to plant trees around its building at 711 Green St.

"I’m so excited we got the grant," said Kathy Lovett, a master gardener who wrote the application. "We have a big plan for creating demonstration gardens at the Board of Education. It’s an evolving project for which we see great possibilities. It will be a place where our junior master gardeners can dig in the dirt and learn."

The group started the project last fall, planting some shrubs in the rear of the building. Eventually, they plan to have a full garden in the grassy space between the education building and the First Baptist Church property.

Some of the trees to be funded with the grant will be planted around this garden. Others will be placed in the front of the building, but they’ll be small species that, when full grown, will not impair the view.

"We chose species that are drought- and pollution-tolerant," said Lovett. "Because of the high visibility of this area, we’ll serve the double purpose of educating the public and beautifying Green Street."