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Sunday Stories

Unsung Heroes: City landscaping crew covers a lot of ground

April 30th, 2012 9:24 am by Staff Report

By Katina Rose

It is easy to take beautiful scenery and tree-lined streets for granted when you look at them every day. Sometimes it takes the eyes of a visitor, or a return home from a trip, to appreciate our surroundings in the City of Kingsport.

There are almost 12.5 acres of landscaped areas, divided into 110 designated locations, within the Kingsport city limits. That is a lot of ground for Lewis Bausell, landscape specialist for the City of Kingsport, and his landscaping crew to cover.

Thankfully, this crew, even though small in numbers, does an outstanding job on providing lovely landscaped areas for city residents to enjoy. Many times they are also responsible for that crucial first impression when visitors enter the city.

The hardworking landscaping crew consists of a foreman and eight men. With 12 acres of flower beds to take care of, they keep consistently busy schedules. Anyone who has ever planted, weeded and cared for their own lawn knows how much work, time and energy goes into keeping a beautiful and well-kept landscaped area.

Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips said, "They do their work with pride and it shows throughout the city. Our landscaping crew is outstanding and they truly make a difference in their line of work."

This crew keeps an eye out on all the flower beds, weeds and mulch. They also take care of the right of way spraying, which includes the guardrails, concrete medians and sidewalks downtown. If that wasn’t enough, they also take care of all the building and detailed mowing in the city. The detailed mowing consists of the high visibility mowing areas, such as city hall and local colleges.

Another large aspect of their job requires the crew to take care of the city’s tree work. Bausell said that the city street trees were inventoried a few years ago and there are approximately 9,000 trees. The landscaping crew is responsible for all removal and pruning of the trees. Because of the City of Kingsport’s Tree City USA status, it keeps the crew busy grinding, pruning and planting new trees. The city has been a Tree City USA for 26 years, thanks in part to the work performed by the landscaping crew.

In the fall, they assist with leaf collection, and in the winter, they perform snow removal duties.

"Lewis and his crew are incredibly talented and resourceful," said Jeff Fleming, assistant city manager for development. "They have systematically replaced high maintenance annuals with interesting trees, shrubs and perennials that provide colorful blooms or changes in foliage color all year round."

Some of the newer landscaping additions in the city include the center median on Eastman Road and the Netherland Inn Circle. A few areas that showcase their work include the beautiful flower beds at the Sullivan and Wilcox intersection and the relaxing shady tree line on Broad Street.

"The crew has a lot of responsibility and they take pride in their work. They take an interest and take it personally when working on the landscaping areas. They always want to do their best with the time they have," said Bausell. "We have a very specialized crew and it takes a particular talent to do this type of work. It requires special skills and they attend seminars every year. Many are certified pest control applicators. Everything we deal with is live and growing, and it is a never-ending cycle."

"The look of our grounds, streetscapes, and entryways are our first impression to outsiders.  And you know what they say about first impressions.  Thankfully ours is more and more positive with Lewis and his crews on the job," Fleming said.

Bausell and his crew work hard day and night to keep Kingsport looking its best and to provide beautiful scenery for residents and visitors. The next time you drive by a blooming colorful flower bed, with fresh mulch and no weeds, or enjoy the trees along our streets or parking lots, be sure to appreciate the individuals who provided them.

Unsung Heroes is a monthly feature recognizing an employee or group of employees who work behind the scenes to help their business or company succeed. Watch for it on the third and fifth Sundays of each month in Sunday Stories. To suggest an individual or group of Unsung Heroes, email Carmen Musick at

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