Desoto County News

New tree at the Hernando Courthouse Square welcomes Earth Day

Fresh sapling replaces a tree felled by lightning earlier this month.

Photo: From left, Supervisor Mark Gardner and Director of Environmental Services/Parks and Greenways Ray Laughter with the new pin oak planted in the Hernando Courthouse Square. (Bob Bakken/

DeSoto County’s Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 20 gave county officials the chance to show off a new addition to the Courthouse Square in Hernando.  

A large tree graced the square in front of the County Courthouse for years, but a few weeks ago was destroyed by lightning on April 2. 

County Director of Environmental Services/Parks and Greenways Ray Laughter said Saturday that his department, along with the County Maintenance Department, took charge of removing the destroyed tree and planting a new pin oak tree, which now stands where the old tree was located. 

“We wanted to make sure it got done in time for Earth Day,” Laughter said. “I’d probably say the old tree was 40-50 years old. It was a good-sized tree.”  

DeSoto County Supervisor Mark Gardner added that when the old tree was struck by lightning, it was fortunate no one was injured.

“The good news is no one was hurt,” Gardner said. “Now we have this beautiful new tree just planted to take his place.”

Cost of the new tree was probably close to $300, Laughter said, adding the Maintenance Department’s work to remove the old tree likely added some to the replacement cost. 

But, those who enjoy the Courthouse Square are seeing a new sapling now grace the area, set to grow in the center of Hernando for years to come, and adding a signature piece to Earth Day 2024 in DeSoto County.

“The square is a partnership between the county and the city,” said Hernando Mayor Chip Johnson. “Obviously the county owns the land right here in the middle with the courthouse and they do an excellent job keeping it looking the way the citizens of DeSoto County want it.”