By Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA — A small voice amongst a mix of three to five year olds called out, asking if it was all right to get his hands dirty. The inquiry came from the base of a weeping redbud tree being planted in commemoration of Arbor Day at the south side of Edison Community College, outside the childcare facility, Thursday morning.
“Can I do it?” asked another as the dozen-plus children in attendance were eager to assist Public Park employees, Marcus Jones and Andy Rey, in planting the new tree. The group was also joined by school officials, teachers, and city leaders including Bob Graeser, city urban forester and project manager for the engineering department, Amy Havenar, city engineer, Judy Terry, city commissioner, and Mayor Lucy Fess.
The event, held a week in advance of Arbor Day, which is celebrated on the last Friday of April, was also an opportunity to recognize the city of Piqua as the recent recipient of the Tree City USA award for the 19th year in a row. The city planted 138 trees last year and was recognized by State Senator Bill Beagle and the Ohio Senate with a special proclamation.
Since 1994, the city of Piqua has been recognized as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Foundation.
Mayor Fess presented both the state and city proclamation on this day of celebrating trees, asking the children, “Aren’t we excited to be here today?” as they not only assisted in planting the weeping redbud but also received coloring books from Danny Bagwell of Pioneer Electric Cooperative, who spoke briefly on the pleasure of climbing trees while emphasizing the care that must be taken with overhead power lines. He also shared information on the emerald ash borer or EAB, an insect that has had a devastating affect on ash trees both in the community and across the state. While Joy Fillette, Tree Care Inc., presented the group with their very own tree to plant at home.
Arbor Day was begun by J. Sterling Morton to promote the planting of trees and urban growth. At the first celebration in 1884, more than a million trees were planted in a single day.
Trees provide a host of benefits to communities including energy savings, an increase in property value, absorption of carbon dioxide, economic development stimulus, improved water quality, erosion reduction and aesthetic appeal. A bonus, as shared by Graeser in previous presentations, a reduction in crime.
Bethany J. Royer may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall