WHY BRIAN PUCKETT LOVES SHELBY COUNTYVice Chairman of the Helena Beautification Board
Brian Puckett and his family have called Helena home for the last 13 years and “love the community.” He and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters, Mallory, 8, and Abby, 3. “Education is very important to me, making Helena and the Shelby County School System a great place to raise our girls in,” Brian says. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s degree in business administration focused on organizational change and leadership theories. He has worked for Regions Bank for nine years. Brian is passionate about being involved in the community. “I am continuously looking for how I can lend a hand in the community, whether it is on the Helena Beautification Board, at church, in the schools or coaching rec league soccer among a few things. In my free time, I like seeing things coming to life either planting new plants or building something in my workshop.”
What do you love about Shelby County?
How much time do we have? What makes up how good the county is all of the towns that make it up. The county is so unique in that no matter what type of lifestyle you have, it can be found here. If you want the hustle and bustle, Shelby County has you covered. If you want to have that small-town atmosphere, well, Shelby County has that too. Most important, the school system in Shelby County is really good.
How long have you been involved with the Helena Beautification Board, and in what capacities?
I have been the vice chairman and secretary of the Helena Beautification Board for the past year and will serve another three years in that capacity. I have been able to help start an educational program for residents on what and how to plant plants that are sustainable to the area, which is one of my personal highlights, but really I will do whatever is needed to make Helena beautiful and bring the community together. I have been given the opportunity within the board to use my skills of strategic execution to ensure that projects stay on time and budget giving the best outcome possible with the end product.
What is the board’s purpose?
The Helena Beautification Board is an appointed board by the City Council with our role being a multitude of things. We work closely with city officials and departments to plan and implement the city’s overall beautification plan. We host several events each year to bring the community together to keep Helena looking good.
What projects has the board worked on or completed this year in Helena?
It has been a really busy year this year for the Beautification Board. We have planted over 600 plants this year. The annual basket planting that happens each spring is the one that always gets the most attention as people drive through Old Town Helena. We launched a new website, Helenabeautiful.com, that includes all of the various plants we have planted throughout town, pictures of various events and how-to articles to make anyone have a green thumb. We also started the educational program where markers are out around town next to various plants with a QR Code on them to allow people to quickly gets tons of information on that specific plant. The board also undertook a redesign of the strip in Old Town this year bringing in Earth-Kind Roses and native perennials to promote sustainability within planting. We put out the fall decorations and scarecrows in town. In February we were able to form a partnership with Texas A&M to further research Earth-Kind roses. The board is also working towards hosting the First Helena Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 1.
Can you talk more about the board’s partnership with Texas A&M?
This has been an exciting and groundbreaking journey for us. It all started in February when the opportunity was brought to us by Dr. Steve George, the creator of the Earth-Kind principles and Texas A&M to host a three-year conformational trial for the next generation of Earth-Kind roses. Helena will be the first municipality to ever host this type of Earth-Kind trial. Earth-Kind is a certification that is given out to roses that have gone through years of research at Texas A&M and have proven to be disease resistant, drought tolerant and produce beautiful flowers over and over with no maintenance to them after you plant them in the ground. Currently, there are 19 different roses that have this certification with the most recognizable one being the Knock Out Rose. With our trial, Texas A&M has narrowed down their study of hundreds of different rose types to 24 that we will be testing. Our test site will be the median leading up to the Helena Sports Complex and will consist of each of the 24 plants planted in three separate beds. We will report back all of our research to Texas A&M as the trial progresses and based on our findings the next generation of Earth-Kind roses will be born. This is a huge win for the City of Helena and Shelby County to be able to host the trial as it will bring in horticulturalists and rose enthusiasts to the area to tour the grounds.
What are a couple of your favorite plants or flowers planted around town?
Just a couple? That will be tough… but let’s give a go. For a rose, I would have to say the Georgetown Tea Rose. It is planted in the circle beds in front of the butcher shop and has amazing lilac blooms with each petal rolling to a point making it have a star shaped appearance. For native perennials that have been planted by the beautification board, I have two favorites. The first is Stokes Aster ‘Peachy’s Pick.’ It has a brilliant bright purple flower that pops against the bright green foliage. This is planted in both of the circle beds in Old Town. The second favorite native perennial would be the Hot Lips Salvia. All summer long this plant has been producing nonstop bright red and white flowers in the Old Town strip.
What’s something people might not know about the Helena Beautification Board?
The Helena Beautification Board is made of 10 board members that share the same vision of promoting the beauty of Helena and what make it so unique, but not everyone is a master gardener or horticulturalist. Actually, most of us are just your everyday “backyard gardener,” but we all bring something different to the team. Everyone is encouraged to use their strengths to better the team and the overall vision.