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Smith leaving city job

Amanda Smith announced Monday that she is leaving her position as Demopolis City Horticulturist to raise her baby son.

May 21 is her last day on the job. The Huntsville native will continue to live in Demopolis and work with her husband Pat and his forestry consultant business. “He’s at the point where he needs a little bit more help,” she said.

Smith has mixed emotions about leaving the position. It was not her intention to leave when she took maternity leave. “I had planned to work (after the birth of her son, Cooper),” she said. “I had gone back to week for a couple of weeks, and I realized that I wanted to be at home with him. We’re in a position where I’m very fortunate that I can be at home.

“…I always told Pat there was no way I would sit at home. I’d be bored to death.” The plan was to put Cooper in daycare, and she would work full time. However, the birth of her son completely changed her life.

“I spent a total of six hours with him in three days” once Smith had returned to work five weeks ago. “This isn’t the way a mother should raise a child.” She did a lot of praying, thinking and crying. “It’s the best thing for my family right now,” she said.

“…I feel like I’ve given up a big part of my life” she said of her position, “but it’s for another big part of my life…I’m still going to do a little free lance landscape design work” after she leaves the city position.

Smith has been in the horticulturist position a little over three years. “I think what I’ve done has been good for the city,” she said. “…I hope it will continue. I think demand from the citizens will be enough. I think it’s made that much of a change in Demopolis.”

Smith believes her biggest accomplishment is raising awareness. “A lot of people in Demopolis have a changed attitude about how making small, esthetic improvements to your town can make big changes. The Green Leaf is a big example. That business wouldn’t even be here and wouldn’t be thriving the way it does without the people of Demopolis realizing what a difference a few flowers can make.

“It’s vital for small towns that are interested in tourism,” she said. “Demopolis is poised on the brink of doing wonderful things with tourism.”

Job notices for the horticulturist position will likely go out to Auburn University, Mississippi State and the Alabama Urban Forestry Association. She hopes she will be allowed to help pick her replacement.

Her departure should not slow down the renovation to the old downtown garage for the new beautification office. “With guidance from the beautification commission, it can still be worked out,” Smith said. “We’ve hired somebody to do the roof. We’re waiting on that to be done before we do any more work on the inside.”

Smith believes she is making the change at a good time. “We’re at a good point right now where it’s too warm to plant things. Planting projects will be put on hold until the fall; that would be that way any way.

The beautification department will be working on the landscaping of the renovated Board of Education building, she said. The sidewalks still need to be completed there.

Smith will continue to serve on the Demopolis Historic Preservation Commission, remain as vice president of the Marengo County Historical Society and be a member of the Friends of Gaineswood. “I want to stay involved,” she said.