McNair Springs clean up a success

Over 100 volunteers descended upon McNair Springs near Magee last weekend to continue a much-needed cleaning and reclamation project. 

Saturday’s work day was the continuation of work that had begun earlier in the year.

The work day was the result of McNair Springs being selected by Keep Mississippi Beautiful to be the kickoff site for the 2019 Great American Clean-Up.  The idea originated with Simpson Academy sophomore Cooper Carrico and was quickly adopted by the Magee Chamber of Commerce and Keep Magee Beautiful.  Cooper and his dad completed an application requesting that Magee be chosen. 

Keep Mississippi Beautiful has over 40 affiliates across the state, many of which applied to be chosen as the kickoff site.  Sarah Kountouris, Executive Director, said that once she and her Board of Directors realized that Magee’s effort was the idea of high school student, the selection of Magee became what she classified as a “no-brainer”.

Once chosen, a committee was formed to make preparations for the event and to seek volunteers and donations to make the project successful.  The committee consisted of Cooper and Christian, Carrico, LauraLyn Barr, Chris Purdum, Nathan Crace, Bo Huffman, Jan Magee, Nona Lee, Ruth Ellington, Gloria Lucas, Matthew Hickman, Lacye Evans, Amanda Blakeney and Lee Maddox. 

The committee worked for several months to prepare for the event.  Their efforts led to over $20,000 in grants and donations.  That does not include any figures for the countless hours donated by all of the volunteers and City and County work crews.

In February, over 200 youth from Corinth Baptist Church, Goodwater and First Baptist were accompanied by their youth leaders and parents to get the project started.  For 3 hours, these volunteers removed sticks and debris, cleaned out drainage ditches, picked up trash, and cleaned out hedge along the stream.  Led by Keep Magee Beautiful Chair LauraLyn Barr and committee member, Chris Purdum, this workday made a significant difference in the appearance of the park.

Lane Steele, Alderman for the City of Magee, made multiple trips out to the park, along with members of his lawn service crew, to cut down dead trees and limbs that were in the way.

Mayor Dale Berry had members of the City crew working for weeks removing fallen trees, repairing and replacing the electrical services, forming new curbs, poring pads and anything else that was asked of them.  The city crew worked tirelessly to prepare for the April 6th volunteer work day.

Supervisor Danny Craft sent out his bush hogging crew, led by Dwayne Eubanks, out to the park to assist.  This team made a significant difference in clearing hedge and overgrown grass in the acreage between the old softball field and the football field.  The committee in charge of the clean up had been unable to secure a forestry mower to work in this area.  Hearing this, Supervisor Craft sent his team to get the work done.

Simpson County Academy sent over half of the volunteers for the day.  Members of the baseball and cheerleading teams, along with sponsors and coaches worked all morning long on the old baseball and softball fields.  Dugouts and bleachers received much needed paint jobs, flower beds were cleared of weeds and new plants were installed.  Old netting and debris in the outfield was also removed. 

Prior to the event, Tim Bray, Maintenance Director for the City of Magee installed a new utility receptacle and rewired the pavilion.  He also replaced the lights under the pavilion with new LED lights and will install 4 flood lights on the outside of the pavilion for security purposes.  Entergy sent their work crews to install a new LED flood light at the entrance of the park and replaced existing lights with LED panels to light area surrounding the pavilion.

A reception, sponsored by the City of Magee, and held at the McAlpin house took place the night before the clean-up.  Gloria Lucas coordinated and hosted the event to thank sponsors, committee members and other officials for their assistance in the project.  Gloria and the McAlpin house wowed the guest from out of town with her house, decorations and food.

Saturday morning saw over 100 volunteers join site leaders Nathan Crace, Amanda Blakeney, Chris Purdum, Allen Maddox, Lacye Evans, LauraLyn Barr, Rusty Slover and David Magee to get the work done.  Four new flower beds were planted, a French drain was installed, benches and trash receptacles were installed, lots of areas received new coats of paint and the pavilion received some much-needed repairs.

In the near future, the City will reroof the pavilion.  A new gate, being built by the students at the Simpson County Technical Center, will be added to secure the area at night. Peyton Keith, a rising senior at Simpson County Academy, will design and build a new sign welcoming visitors to McNair Springs.

Many volunteers who helped on the project were unaware that McNair Springs even existed.  With the improvements made, the committee is hoping that more families will visit the park and enjoy the natural beauty that exists there.  McNair Springs is a unique feature that the City of Magee can proudly claim as its own.