Hattiesburg, Mississippi – Recently, Mayor Toby Barker was joined by local city officials, community leaders, Representatives Missy McGee and Percy Watson and the family of Kaity Grenn at Town Square Park to reveal one of nine new electric wheelchair charging stations named in her honor.
In March, Grenn commented on a Facebook post asking about the possibility of wheelchair charging spaces at public parks and other event venues. Barker stated, “She asked specifically about Town Square Park, where she often went for Live at Five, as well as spaces at Kamper Park and the Zoo.”
In response, Barker tasked Hunter White, a project manager in Engineering, with completing the necessary research and finding out how the project could be implemented.
With stakeholders from the Mississippi Department of Rehab Services, Rick Taylor with the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, Mary Scruggs from the Longleaf Trace, local inspirational speaker Dwight Owens and the city’s team from Administration, Grants, Traffic and Construction – a plan to apply for grant funding and have charging stations installed at a variety of public facilities came to fruition.
With support from the City’s local delegation, the City of Hattiesburg received grant funding of $2,250 from the Mississippi Department of Rehab Services to fund the total cost and installation of five charging stations.
Each station includes two different types of charges to assist the majority of the different types of mobility scooters and wheelchairs. Each station also includes a dual-charging USB port to use for charging phones.
The City hoped to install and reveal the stations to Kaity Grenn by the fall edition of Live at Five. Unfortunately, she passed away shortly following approval of the grant.
To honor her memory and her foresight to simply see that Hattiesburg could be a little better and more accessible, this initiative – installing portable charging stations throughout the City – will carry her name as the “Grenn Project.”
“We know Hattiesburg still has work to do in being more handicap accessible in all of our roadways, built environments and public accommodations,” said Barker. “But this serves as a great reminder that when government slows down long enough to list; and when everyone realizes that they have a voice that can influence their own community, great things can happen.”
Barker added that this initiative will continue to grow to ensure citizens with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities that impair movement have the ability to participate and enjoy the city’s outdoor activities.
“We are excited about the opportunities this will provide for individuals with disabilities to continue to enjoy all the great things Hattiesburg has to offer,” said Chris Howard, director of MDRS. “We encourage other cities across our great state to look into providing charging stations for their residents.”
These stations can be found at Town Square Park, Kamper Park, Chain Park, Longleaf Trace 4th Street Gateway and Tatum Park.
The Hattiesburg Convention Commission also chose to fund the purchase and installation of four stations at their facilities, including the Hattiesburg Zoo.