Have you noticed how beautiful Beaumont is becoming? The esplanade down Calder, the new lighting and the impressive user-friendly driveways into businesses in that area are just wonderful. One of the crown jewels in the city’s beautification is the Maree Calcote Greenway on Phelan Boulevard and Kennedy Street. The fragrant roses are a showpiece project of Beautify Beaumont.
Beautify Beaumont was established in 1987 with the goal of “seeking funding for the designs and construction of beautification projects, including landscaping and a tree renewal program for public areas.” The focus was on landscaping projects on public property and rights-of-way. The quote and the idea were the dream of Beautify Beaumont’s founder, the late Maree Calcote.
Beautify Beaumont President Laurie Leister says, “Maree was the driving force behind 15 projects completed between 1987 and 1996. These projects shine in the downtown area and scattered throughout Beaumont. With her inspiration, the Beautify Beaumont group continues its work today.” The current board consists of Linda Bullard, Ninette Teel, Becki Stedman, Kathry Walker, Lewis Hoffer and Chris Boone. Laurie says that each of these people have given hours of their time and talent for the completion of the project.
Leister gives additional credit on their projects to the city of Beaumont, its Mayor Becky Ames, Jim Thompson of the Parks Department, and the Texas Agri-Life Extension Agency. The Master Gardeners, Micah Meyer and local businesses like Forkner Irrigation and Lawn, M&D Supply, R.D. Martin Electric and McMannus Company have been instrumental as well.
Leister says, “In determining the direction of Beautify Beaumont, we have decided to focus on renewing Beaumont’s tree canopy. The tree loss in Beaumont because of our hurricanes is dramatic. According to the Texas Forestry Service, across East Texas, we have lost 10 percent of our merchantable tree canopy. That figure does not include the tree loss on private property.” The city of Beaumont disposed of more than 3 million cubic yards of vegetative waste. That’s over 100,000 huge truckloads of tree and shrub waste!
Beautify Beaumont was awarded $3,400 from the Peggy Martin “Survivor Rose” Fund to add an additional rose bed to the Maree Calcote Greenway in April 2011. The rose bed area looks even more splendid now with the initial two rose beds flanking the sides of a trellis covered with Peggy Martin roses. The Master Gardeners and Texas Agri-Life initially donated 40 “Earth Kind” roses to the project.
The area was officially dedicated to its founder, Maree Calcote, on Nov. 10, 2009. Calcote died of cancer in 2006. Many will remember her as the wife of the headmaster of All Saints with her cheerful presence whenever she passed you by anywhere at the school. Her mission lives on. Her husband, the Rev. Calcote, at the dedication said that Maree’s mantra was, “If the community presents itself in a favorable light, it will be more attractive to people moving in.” When you drive by the area next time, drive slowly, put your window down and smell those sweet roses.
Beautify Beaumont’s Project 15/15 is very exciting. They launched a tree giveaway program in January 2010 at an Arbor Day celebration. With our help, they plan on distributing 15,000 seedlings to Beaumont citizens by 2015. West Brook’s Quest Club helped give away 600 seedlings at HEB last February. Leister adds, “Over the past three years, we have given away a total of 3,000 seedlings in hopes to restore the lost tree canopy in Beaumont.”
If you are interested in volunteering your time or donating to the Beautify Beaumont Projects, check out their website at www.beautifybeaumont.org  or e-mail Laurie Leister at lleister [at] gt [dot] rr [dot] com.