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Speaking for the trees
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Worries the recent drought has wreaked havoc on the health of the county's trees cast a slight pall on Newton County's otherwise cheerful Arbor Day celebration.

A group of approximately 30 tree enthusiasts gathered on Clark Street Friday morning for the customary planting of an oak tree by Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful. This year however instead of planting a new tree, KCNB decided to replace a tree which had died as a result of the drought.

The new oak tree was planted by Daniel Bauer, a master arborist with Bartlett Tree Experts. The tree accompanies several other oak trees planted along Clark Street in honor and memory of KCNB volunteers.

Speaking before the gathered crowd Covington Mayor Kim Carter highlighted some of the many benefits that come from living surrounded by trees.

"When residents are around trees and the outdoors and not just asphalt and steel, there's much less violence," said Carter, citing a Chicago Police Department five-year study.

According to a recent article in The Energy Times, living near trees can have positive psychological, physical and economical benefits for people such as milder symptoms in children with ADHD and lower energy bills during the summer months.

"Trees give us so much in our lives," said KCNB executive director Connie Waller.

Waller advised the crowd to "do what you can to influence other people to appreciate trees."

After the tree dedication ceremony, Bauer gave attendees a presentation on the caring of trees at The Center for Community Preservation and Planning.

Bauer said in times of drought it is the oldest and youngest trees that will suffer the most and need the most attention. According to Bauer, multiple factors can affect a tree's health such as too little water, too much water, construction and parasites.

"When they're under stress they're going to put out as much fruit as possible," Bauer said. "Everything is in slower, long term phases [with trees]."

Bauer advised attendees to give their trees a good soaking once a week with water they had saved from their households. Bauer said mulch could also be used to help trees retain their moisture in times of drought. Bauer said the mulch should be spread out 3 to 4 inches from the base of the trunk.

Even if the trees look healthy this spring, Bauer warned audience members that the effects of the drought could take three to five years to show up in trees.

Friday's celebration also included the recognition of three Tree Stewards by the Covington Tree Preservation Board. In the institutional category, Newton Federal Bank was recognized. C.R. Bard was recognized in the industrial category and Clark's Grove was recognized in the residential category.