Crews assess, prune tornado-damaged trees at Murphy High School

By Sally Pearsall Ericson |
on March 21, 2013 at 2:48 PM, updated March 21, 2013 at 2:59 PM

MOBILE, Alabama – The tornado-damaged trees on the campus at Murphy High School are looking a little tidier, thanks to a cleanup and pruning sponsored by Alabama Power, the city’s urban forestry department, and the Murphy Alumni Association.

“We agreed to handle the project,” said Theodore Kearley, treasurer of the Murphy Alumni Association. “We brought everybody together.” 

Alabama Power, RDA Tree Service, Asplundh Tree Service and Lewis Tree Service contributed equipment and labor to the service day. The urban forestry division sent out two crews with additional ground pole saws for low limbs.

“It was important that we dock them now, so that in the next six months we can see what is regenerating and monitor the growth,” said Tommy Sheffield, facilities manager for the Mobile County Public School System. “We’ll continue to assess the trees.”

One of the smaller oaks on the Carlen Street side of the campus near the cafeteria was split down the center and had to be removed, Sheffield said, but none of the bigger trees has been taken down so far. The large tree near the front gates, surrounded by a ring of concrete benches, is still up, despite significant damage, said Carmen Kearley, MAA president.

“We’re continuing to raise money to landscape and restore the campus when the construction work is done,” Theodore Kearley said. School officials hope to reopen the campus in time for the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Several opportunities are coming up to donate to the Murphy restoration effort, he said. On Monday, March 25, Zea Rotisserie and Grill on Airport Boulevard will donate a portion of its proceeds to the tornado restoration fund.

On Saturday, March 30, Murphy students Cody Kinlaw and Kerry Blakeney have planned "Students Help Murphy," a fundraiser concert at Moe's BBQ, 771 Spring Hill Ave. near downtown. Musicians will include the Murphy Jazz Band, Modern Eldorado and Grits and Pieces; the event will go from 1 to 7 p.m. and will include a silent auction of art by current and former Murphy students. Tickets are $10 ($5 for students). Proceeds will go toward the restoration of the band room, which was destroyed in the Dec. 25 tornado.

“We’re still trying to work with the state legislature to provide additional funding toward the restoration and updating of Murphy,” Theodore Kearley said. To make a donation, send a check in care of Theodore Kearley to P.O. Box 66158, Mobile, AL 36660. For details, go to 

View full sizeCrews prune damaged limbs from the large oaks at Murphy High School. (Courtesy of Carmen Kearley)