Covington Mayor Kim Carter and Newton County Commission Chairwoman Kathy Morgan proclaimed Friday as Arbor Day at a joint celebration at Washington Street Community Center.
Covington Tree Board Chair Loy Summers greeted the guests before Carter and Morgan made their proclamations.
Carter said on Arbor Day, a day honoring the importance of trees, the community should be proud to have approximately 1,200 historic oaks, pecans and poplars dominating its tree line.
"It would be neat if they could talk and they could tell us all the history they’ve seen over the hundreds of years they’ve been in this community," Carter said.
She added that the trees planted this year would share the community's skies for generations.
Morgan said that after surveying damage done by Wednesday night’s tornado, she ate lunch with some of the families whose homes sustained significant damage when large trees fell on them. One particular conversation stood out to her.
"One woman was talking about what kind of tree to replant in the space that one came up from," Morgan said, "and it just gave me hope and chills for the future."
She also said trees give gifts of reducing soil erosion, removing pollutants from the air and providing shade and a habitat for a variety of wildlife.
"The most valuable gift trees have to offer is the oxygen they provide us to breathe," Morgan said.
County Landscape Architect Debbie Bell said that nationally Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April "because nobody wants to do anything outside in Nebraska in February." According to Bell, Georgia typically celebrates Arbor Day in February because that is the perfect time to plant dormant trees in the state.
Bell mentioned that trees can save on utility bills by acting as windbreaks in the winter and shade in the summer. Because they remove pollutants from the air they have the potential to save money on medical bills. Trees also typically add value to a home.
Marshall Ginn then presented Longhorn Steakhouse (commercial) and McIntosh Bank (institutional) with Covington Tree Preservation Board Tree Steward Awards for exceptional planting and maintenance of trees on the companies’ property.
The city of Covington planted a live oak at Academy Springs Park to mark Arbor Day this year.
"That tree should last 200 years or better and provide a canopy for children to play under well into the future," said City Arborist Kevin Sorrow.
Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful Executive Director was on hand to honor Live Oak Level Sponsors (at least $1,500) of the organizations Green Getaway fundraiser to support their educational programs and beautification efforts.
The Newton County Water & Sewage Authority, Standridge Color Corporation, Hutter & Associates, Ohco Inc., The Covington News and Capes Property Management had a trees planted in their names by KCNB at Chimney Park.
Other trees were planted recently at Chimney Park by Cub Scout Pack 747 and Boy Scout Troop 478, led by Rock Chase as well as volunteers working with Hands On Newton, led by Director Doug Bolton. Hands On Newton also planted trees at Turner Lake Recreation Facility and along the Porterdale walking Trail.
TreesCovington Inc. bought several trees which were planted at Chimney Park by Hands on Newton, at Corrydale Neighborhood Park by the city of Covington and at Washington Street Community Center by Bartlett Tree Service.
Steve Johnston of Bartlett Tree Service explained how the Princeton Elm planted on WSCC’s campus is a hybrid of American and other elms and is resistant to Dutch elm disease. He said the tree’s vase-like, arching structure will provide excellent canopy for years.
WSCC Director Bea Jackson thanked all participants in this year’s Arbor Day celebration and said that members of the community had stepped forward and committed to watering the tree planted by Bartlett weekly.
More than 40 residents gathered Saturday morning at the George Street Park for educational workshops for Oxford's celebration of Arbor Day.
Beryl Budd, senior community forester with the Georgia Forestry Commission, presented Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry with a Tree City USA designation marking the city's 11th year as an official Tree City. Palmer Stone Elementary fifth-grader and contest winner Taji Steele, 11, was recognized for her Arbor Day poster, which will be submitted in a state-wide contest.
Workshops led by Budd and Connie Waller, executive director of Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful, showed residents how to mulch trees and plant seedlings. Arborists from Bartlett Tree Experts demonstrated proper tree climbing, inspection and pruning. Participants also included the Oxford Tree Board and Oxford College student clubs.
Ian Campbell, an arborist representative with Bartlett, advised that the best way to protect against storm damage from trees is to continuously care for a tree from a young age. "Generally people don't think about their trees until after they see their neighbor's trees blown over and that's when they start to think ‘I should take care of mine,'" he said.
"The key to it is keeping your tree healthy," added Budd. "Minimizing damage, pruning properly, giving it plenty of room to grow... You'd be surprised. Most people don't know the proper tree care practices."
For more information and advice on proper tree care techniques, call Beryl Budd at (706) 542-9609 or Newton County arborist Debbie Bell at (678) 625-1651.