CEDAR RAPIDS — Under a new initiative, Cedar Rapids will forgo competitive bidding for annual tree planting in favor of forming a partnership with a Marion nonprofit — Trees Forever — to handle most plantings in public rights of way and foster a youth employment program.

Initially, about 10 local teenagers ages 14 to 18 are expected to earn $10 an hour planting, caring for and watering trees through the program called Growing Futures. Similar programs operate in Des Moines, Indianapolis and Atlanta.

“More trees will survive and I love the training program to this and everything about it,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart said Tuesday before voting for it.

The City Council, at its regular meeting Tuesday, approved the plan unanimously. The agreement pays Trees Forever $125,000

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