Woolmarket pastor on a mission to save live oaks

WOOLMARKET, MS (WLOX) - A Woolmarket pastor is leading a campaign to save three large, live oak trees that stand in the path of a sewer project.

Rev. Joe Reynolds of Coalville United Methodist Church collected petition signatures on Sunday and enlisted the help of two other local pastors to do the same.

A final decision may rest with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

"This is one of the three trees that are in danger of being destroyed," said Rev. Reynolds, as he pointed to a large live oak along Lorraine Road.

He's on a mission in his church's front yard.   A sewer project, already underway, threatens to claim three large live oaks.

"And I can't save them all. But I think these three right here are worth the effort," said the Coalville United Methodist pastor.

Pastor Reynolds says it would cost around $150,000 for construction crews to bore beneath the trees and try to save them.

The Harrison County Utility Authority wants to try and spare the live oaks, but DEQ oversees funding.

"I think their problem is trying to understand that there's a value to these, far beyond the dollars and cents. The bottom line is if they don't respond or approve this money, the alternative is to destroy these trees," said Rev. Reynolds.

One of the trees is in a yard directly across from Woolmarket First Baptist. That church's pastor joined Rev. Reynolds in promoting the petitions on Sunday.

"We're supposed to be good stewards of God's creation. And while we understand the need for progress, it seems like there should be a way we can do it without destroying all the beauty of nature, all the things God has made for us to enjoy," said Rev. Paul Crowley.

"There's just not a way you can value these trees by dollars and sense," said Pastor Reynolds.

With the project quickly approaching, it may take a small miracle to save the three live oaks. And with pastors leading the petition drive, a miracle is just fine with them.

"There's always a chance. When the people speak and when prayers are offered up and God works, even the government can respond," said Rev. Crowley.

It looks like there's a good chance the trees may be saved.

DEQ Executive Director Trudy Fisher told WLOX News the utility authority must first submit a change order to work around the trees.

Project manager, Forest Forbes, told us that change order is underway and the utility authority is considering several options to spare the trees.

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