Oak tree removed by Ocean Springs lives again as piece of art

Oak tree removed by Ocean Springs lives again as piece of art
Ocean Springs Public Works employee Lloyd Helveston says he was called to sculpt a piece of the Lovers Lane oak tree into the form of a turtle. It's now on display at the Weeks Bayou Nature Trail on Shearwater Drive in Ocean Springs.

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A controversial decision to cut down a live oak tree in Ocean Springs has a happy twist.

Part of that tree which was stood on Lovers Lane has been transformed into a piece of art. Now, it's getting its own spotlight.

Lloyd Helveston doesn't consider himself as a sculptor, but he surely speaks like one.

"The log was telling me pretty well what I wanted to do with it," he said. "So, once I looked into the log and saw what actually was becoming of it, that's when the turtle came out."

Helveston carved and treated the limb last weekend.

He's an employee at Public Works, where parts of the 100-year-old Lovers Lane tree has been since the tree was cut down in December.

"Every day, when I would come to work, I went out in the yard. And I would see that tree," Helveston said. "Something kept drawing me to it to make something out of this."

Helveston said he didn't originally plan for this sculpture to be on display, but he now realizes that it's a good statement in the city's priority for restoration.

This chainsaw project began a week ago, and he solicited help from Alderman Ken Papania to find the right place for display: The Weeks Bayou Nature Trail on Shearwater Drive.

"We decided this is the appropriate site - a natural site where probably during the time of the Indians turtles came ashore here and laid eggs," Papania said. "We did not like cutting this oak tree down, but we do like the idea of being able to continue, conserve it, and have it here in town."

The property is owned by the Land Trust of the Mississippi Coastal Plain. And member Alice Duckett said the sculpture is a good fit.

"Children love turtles," she said with a laugh. "You just can't pick a better thing to attract them and induce them to learn more about nature. And that's we hope it will do - is create a new generation of preservationists and conservationists."

Helveston hopes the sculpture will represent more than just his talents.

"I just want my grandkids, my family, or anybody else that comes by here and sees this that, you know, anything's possible if you just put your mind to it," he said. "I would have never thought 50 years ago that I would ever be doing something like this."

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