Let’s Park by Lynne Cunningham

The Friends of the Legion State Park met at the Lodge on August 14 for the third quarterly meeting. President Frances Ball presented an agenda, which include consideration and discussion dealing with ongoing plans and projects for the remainder of the calendar year.

Members/Volunteers attending were Kline Shepherd, Esther Taylor, Henry Brandt, Park Manager Tim Flake and Lynne Cunningham.

Kline Shepherd outlined plans for planting a butterfly garden near the Chapel in the Pines. He is collecting plants, which particularly attract butterflies, including bee balm lantana and verbena. If you have any butterfly plants to contribute or donate please contact Kline or Lynne Cunningham Refurbishing has been successfully completed on the restoration of the gazebo and it has been placed in the prominent spot along the north side of the road as you drive into the park about midway. Tim Flake and crafty volunteers scraped, sanded and repainted the gazebo and it is lovely and romantic spot for any young man or woman to “Pop the Question”. It would also be ideal for reading poetry, a racy novel or even meditating.

A comprehensive assessment of the activities and projects sponsored by The Friends this year allowed for very good success with the Kids- N-Kats Fishing Rodeo, a statewide activity encouraged by our Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks Department but supported financially with generous local donations from our immediate area. The young fishermen and women really have fun catching the catfish placed in Legion Lake especially for the Rodeo.

Other projects with appeal were a Bird Walk in the park guided by Dr. Jeanne Jones who is a professor and bird expert at Mississippi State University and our neighbor since she lives in the Sterling Community. Dr. Lelia Kelly also a professor at MSU was the special consultant and mentor who helped Kline Shepherd identify plants and trees in the park and correctly place identifying weather hearty labels, which Kline engineered and designed. Dr. Kelly also guided a Native Walk giving info and enlightenment with special focus on these plants and markers.

The summer picnic sponsored by The Friends was well attended and a flag raising ceremony celebrating the 75th year of the building of The Lodge was a highlight. Kline Shepherd and Jerry McCullough cooked up some delicious burgers and the ladies brought some first class sweets. Success was sweet also with the acceptance of 12 new members and their checks of $10.00 each to help support your local park, Legion State Park-Louisville, Mississippi!

A special invitation has been extended to the directors and commissioners of Mississippi Department Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to visit Legion State Park as guests of The Friends for a first hand look at were we are and to hear our plans for more upgrades and worthy projects in the future. This gathering will take place in September. Decorating the Christmas tree at the Lodge will be the closing statement by The Friends for the year 2012.

Did you see the article in the Jackson paper about the see turtles, which were rehabilitated and released into the Mississippi Sound. These turtles are Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, one of the most endangered species. The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies facilities in the Gulfport is one of the premiere organizations working in rescuing, rehabilitating, researching and returning rehabilitated turtles to their natural habitat. Their staff members and programs were responsible for rehabilitating Kemp’s Ridley turtles and returning them to their natural habitat in the Mississippi Sound, recently. We wish them continued success in their endeavor to Marine animals in our neck of the woods.