By Melody Vallieu
TROY — The Miami County Courthouse plaza will see some sprucing up this season thanks to a civic-minded group of landscaping companies.
The group of eight landscaping companies — all from Miami County — will continue its Operation Cloverleaf program to the county’s courthouse, according to Ted Mercer, owner of Mercer Group Inc. The new program, Operation Courthouse, will offer free landscaping services from the eight companies to enhance the grounds around the courthouse.
Mercer said the goal of the new program is to enhance the lawn, trees, shrubs and landscape beds at the courthouse. Volunteers will donate all expertise, labor and equipment to maintain the courthouse lawn and landscape, he said.
The group held a “field day” on Saturday, with all eight landscaping companies coming together to make a plan for the season and to begin the work. Mercer said the scope of the work will include, but is not limited to, mowing, landscaping, weeding, mulching, lawn fertilization, tree and shrub pruning, fertilization and spraying of trees and shrubs. In the future, each landscaping company will have a specific job each week that they will do at their convenience throughout the week or weekend, Mercer said.
The companies now also involved in Operation Courthouse include Mercer Group Inc., Greentech Lawn and Irrigation, Tree Care Inc., All-Pro Shields Lawn Tamers, Anderson’s Tree & Turf Tech, Quality Lawn, Landscape & Fence Inc. and Ever-Green Turf & Landscape.
The total cost for services Operation Courthouse will provide free to the community is estimated at $11,959.50 per year, Mercer said.
Mercer first brought the landscaping companies together in 2003 to provide free landscaping services to the interchange at Interstate 75 and State Route 41 to improve the look of the entrance to Troy, considered by Mercer as the “gateway to the community.” Operation Cloverleaf — 12 years later — still cares for the area at I-75 that includes 18 acres with 235 trees and hundreds of flowers. Since its introduction, the landscaping companies have given $622,001.28 for the in-kind services to the city, at no cost to taxpayers, Mercer said.
Last year alone, Mercer said, Operation Cloverleaf planted more than 250 false sunflowers during the summer at the interchange.
Mercer said the unique relationship of a public/private partnership is meant to support the community. He said while other communities have contacted him over the years about starting such a relationship, he knows of no other partnership quite like it in the area. Mercer said the success of Operation Cloverleaf — and now Operation Courthouse — comes from a good group of business owners with great employees.
“When I started (Operation Cloverleaf), I was thinking, if we can do this for three or four years, that would be great,” Mercer said. “But we’ve stuck together and worked together, that has made this work.”
With Operation Courthouse, Mercer said they were offering the residents of Troy a gift, but were also looking to do something countywide to support the community.
“I would drive by the courthouse and just took a good look and thought what a beautiful, iconic building it is,” Mercer said. “I asked every company, and every company wanted to do it.”
Mercer said the group then proposed the program to the Miami County Commissioners who agreed that it would benefit all residents of Miami County.
“The neat thing about the group is were all competitors through the week, but at the end of the day, we can come together and provide a service to the community,” Mercer said. “I think that speaks well for the organization. We’re excited about it and the commissioners are excited about it.
“We’re both coming together to provide something to benefit everyone,” he said.
Board of Commissioners President Richard Cultice agrees.
“This is a very civic-minded group,” Cultice said. “We’re looking forward to working with them. It will be a very positive thing for us and for them.”
A sign is erected at the I-75/State Route interchange acknowledging Operation Cloverleaf — which won the Troy Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2010 Community Service Award — and its supporters, and a similar sign will be posted at the courthouse for the new program, Mercer said.
Anyone wishing to support the programs, Mercer said, can donate through a fund set up through the Troy Foundation. No donated funds are used to pay employees of the companies, only to purchase items for enhancements such as new bulbs, trees and rose bushes at the locations.
Reach Melody Vallieu at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (937) 552-2131 or find her on Twitter at @TroyDailyNews