Prattville – As a wintry precipitation mix fell in the city this morning and temperatures hovered around 32 degrees, Prattville Mayor Jim Byard Jr. presented an Arbor Day Proclamation to the City’s Horticulturist, Ken Johnson, and an American sycamore tree was planted as part of the observance at Overlook Memorial Park.
“I’ve been the mayor in Prattville for eleven years and two of those occasions we’ve had winter precipitation … but it’s snowing on Arbor Day!” Byard exclaimed. “Because it is so cold this will be a brief ceremony.”
Byard then introduced Michelle Cole of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, as an honorary Prattvillian for her work last year in the ReLeaf effort. Last year on the anniversary of the tornado that ripped through the city on February 17, 2008, hundreds of trees were planted in the yards of those homes damaged by the devastation.
Cole also congratulated the city on celebrating its 25th year of being a Tree City USA.
The mayor said that it was very fitting that the Arbor Day observance was held at Overlook because the park had also been affected by the tornado.
As the mayor headed to the site of the tree planting he remarked that preparations had already been done for the ceremony.
“We’re going to plant it just like a good politician … everything is already done, the hole is dug, and someone is going to put the tree in the ground as we plant it,” he said. “Today is a good day to plant, though, when it’s wet and cold.”
The Alabama Forestry Commission donated a thousand tree seedlings to be distributed free to the public. According to Brian Frederick, Autauga County Forester, there were many species available including crepe myrtle, red maple, Japanese maple, river birch, Chinese dogwood, and about five varieties of oak.
Arbor Day was the brainchild of Nebraska journalist and politician Julius Sterling Morton and the first observance was held on April 10, 1872. Believing that his state’s landscape and economy would benefit from the wide-scale planting of trees, Morton not only planted trees on his own farm and urged others to follow suit, but proposed that a special day be set aside dedicated to tree planting and increasing awareness of the importance of trees.
The last full week of February each year is designated as Arbor Week in Alabama to coincide with the best tree planting time for the region; this year Arbor Week is February 21-27.
Article by Melissa Parker
© 2010 Our Prattville. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written consent of the publisher.