MANSFIELD -- It's likely the most anticipated tree planting since Johnny Appleseed walked through Richland County two centuries ago.
Trees have returned to the front lawn of the Richland County Courthouse.
Workers from Bellville's Wade Gardens Landscape and Gifts began work Wednesday to plant 19 new trees as part of an overall beautification plan county commissioners announced in April.
Commissioner Marilyn John stood on the courthouse lawn Wednesday morning and said weather had delayed the effort.
Commissioners were publicly criticized for removing 12 aging trees from the lawn in March, including 10 tulip poplars.
"It's been several weeks in coming. As anyone who lives in the Midwest knows, we have had a lot of rain this spring. The farmers have been delayed in getting their crops in," John said. "So we had some delays. We had hoped to have them in by Memorial Day. That didn't work out, but they will be in by July 4. We are thrilled to have them here."
The planned trees include 10 Frontier Elms, six Amelanchier Autumn Brilliance (serviceberry) trees and three Royal Raindrop Flowering Crabapples (along the Diamond Street side of the building).
John said the trees are part of an overall plan that includes three new flagpoles, park benches, the painting of cannons, flowers on the portico and new dirt and grading of the area in front of the courthouse where water pooled.
Lights along the sidewalks are also being installed.
"We are adding lighting so it's actually a gathering place. For safety reasons, adding lights is important. Lights can also be used from a decorative standpoint. We will accomplish all those things," she said.
John said the planters along the portico match the flowers and planters in the rest of downtown Mansfield.
Ground for a Gold Star memorial on the lawn is expected to be broken in July and dedicated in November. By then, commissioners plan to have a concrete pad installed for it and an apron pad around it and additional bushes and landscaping.
"It's coming along," John said. "We really appreciate all of the contractors who have come in and worked with us. We have received from great feedback from residents who have called in. They really like it."