Mayor, shooting victim plant tree during Maplewood beautification

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Maplewood -- An inspiring encounter took place March 15 during a beautification event hosted by the Maplewood Neighborhood Association at Mypark, the little sliver of recreational greenspace at East 17th and Date streets. While neighbors and dignitaries worked to clean up the park and plant trees, Jose Reyes happened to walk by. Reyes is the young man who was shot as he walked nearby last August; the shooting was considered gang-related. Rather than shunning him, though, longtime neighborhood leader Cynthia Powers sent Reyes a get-well card while he recovered. On March 15, Reyes greeted Powers and got into a long conversation with Mayor Tim Leavitt, and then helped Leavitt plant a tree in the park. Neighbor Derya Ruggles contacted The Columbian to say how pleased everyone was to see such positive energy in a neighborhood that's been haunted by crime and blight.