ARC plants trees at PCHS
PHIL CAMPBELL – The new Phil Campbell High School campus was the recipient of 13 trees that were donated this past week by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), which is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government.
The ARC is composed of delegates from 13 states that make up the Appalachian Region: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
Delegates from all 13 states were in the Shoals area last week for their ARC Fall Conference, and according to Jim Byard, Jr., the director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and Gov. Robert Bentley’s representative to the ARC, the commission chooses a service project to complete during each conference meeting, and this time they chose something that would have a lasting effect.
“Since we were meeting close to Hackleburg and Phil Campbell, we decided our service project would be planting trees in these communities that were so heavily affected by the April 27, 2011 tornadoes,” he said.
“We have planted 13 trees – one for each state represented in the ARC – and this will be more of a legacy project because it will be something that will last for generations to come.”
Delegates from all 13 states came to Phil Campbell High School for the tree dedication ceremony last Wednesday where local officials expressed their gratitude to the ARC for their interest in helping to beautify the new PCHS campus.
“Three and a half years ago, there was total devastation in Phil Campbell because of the EF-5 tornado that came through this community,” Franklin County assistant superintendent Donald Borden said.
“This town has come a long way since that day and our school, students and teachers have come a long way as well. We appreciate the ARC for recognizing this and choosing Phil Campbell for their legacy service project.”
Phil Campbell Mayor Steve Bell echoed Borden’s sentiments.
“Three years ago, this was pretty much a blank slate,” Bell said.
“Since that time, the town of Phil Campbell has received $8,699,394 in grants that have assisted our town in rebuilding, which will foster economic development in our area, and we appreciate all the help we have received.”
Earl Gohl, the deferral co-chair and President Obama’s representative to the ARC, said he was proud to see such progress being made in Phil Campbell.
“Natural disasters are very personal, terrifying, scary things that happen to us that we never forget,” Gohl said.
“The healing process is a community activity, and it is clear the folks in this part of Alabama are doing a great job of meeting the challenge of recovery. It is an honor to see how far you have come, and it is an honor to have ARC make this a legacy project.”
Byard and other members of the ARC also recognized the Phil Campbell Future Farmers of America (FFA) organization, which supplied the labor so that all 13 trees could already be planted before the dedication ceremony.
“This was a great project for our students because it taught them lessons in landscape management by planting the trees and taking care of the trees,” FFA sponsor Jonathan King said.
“This was a great hands-on project.”
“I just want to thank the ARC for choosing Phil Campbell High School for their legacy project,” PCHS principal Gary Odom said.
“This will be something our students and community can enjoy for many years to come.”