HATTIESBURG, Miss. - University of Southern Mississippi plans a landscaping project that will collect funds to help restore the southern edge of its Hattiesburg campus that was damaged two months ago from a tornado.
USM officials announced the project Monday.
School President Rodney Bennett said the project will cost about $3 million. Campus officials want to add more sidewalks and replant more than 100 trees that were destroyed by the EF-4 tornado.
"We hope to have made significant process by the time fall semester begins in August," Bennett said.
Landscape architects from Neel-Schaffer are managing the project. They plan to break up it up into five phases.
"The beginning phase is the gateway phase which is the main entrance at west and east memorial drive," said Russ Bryan, landscape architect spearheading the project.
"The gateway phase is going in the next few weeks," he said.
Bennett said the storm tore down about 75 trees just on the front side of the campus.
"Tree planting along Highway 49 and Hardy Street will be one of the last phases," said Bryan.
University officials said only about $250,000 of insurance money can be spent on landscaping, and since this is a 3 million dollar project, the school is asking the public for help.
The Alumni Association has already donated $100,000 to fund the project.
"If we keep the pace up that we are on now we will certainly accomplish that goal," Bennett said.
Anyone who wants to contribute financially can do so online at www.usmfoundation.com.