At last Lewisburg can call itself 'Tree City USA'

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

By Karen Hall


It's been several years, but at last Lewisburg can call itself a "Tree City USA" and participate in the program set up by the Arbor Day Foundation.

"I'd like to thank all those who persevered and brought us to the point where we're almost ready to plant our first tree," said Mayor Jim Bingham during the tree city board's first meeting last week.

The city council had to pass an ordinance in favor of becoming a "Tree City," and the final step required was to set up a tree city board. The mayor asked Councilman Odie Whitehead Jr. to form a board, and after everyone introduced themselves, Whitehead asked for nominations for chairman and secretary.

When no one spoke up, he nominated Andrea Childress as chairman and Mike Wiles as secretary, and these were both unanimously approved, and agreed to serve. Childress has been involved with the tree city idea since Bob Phillips was mayor, Whitehead said.

"We decided Tree City USA was something being used around the country, and in neighboring towns like Pulaski," Wiles said.

He explained an ordinance had to be passed, and a board set up, and then the city has to show an expenditure of $2 per citizen per year toward tree beautification. Also, once a year, there has to be a tree planting ceremony to mark Arbor Day.

"We're also supposed to provide education to the public," Wiles added.

"The tree-city designation is important to the city," said City Manager Randall Dunn. "We will be doing other plantings that are not a part of the program, and we'd like to see (you) involved in that as well."

One of these other plantings, said Wiles, will be to screen the sewage treatment plant from view, from Rock Creek Park, and from North Ellington Parkway.

At a recent meeting of the Industrial Development Board, $10,000 was set aside to fund planting these trees.

Board members agreed to meet at City Hall at 4 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month.

Tree planting that is part of the Tree City USA program will take place on city property. Board members agreed to develop a short list of acceptable trees, and a list of where they can be planted, including the grounds of the Rec Center, in Rock Creek Park, at the ball parks, and along the walking trail.

"We must pick trees that are indigenous and hardy," said Dunn. "And exclude Bradford pears!"

Very soon, if a person wants to plant a tree, perhaps in memory of someone, all they will have to do is visit City Hall, decide what kind of tree they want, and write one check to the city to pay for the tree, planting, maintenance, and a plaque.

"We've taken a big step," exclaimed Whitehead. "Let's don't overprice this, but I think we should maintain the trees and help grow them -- that's my recommendation."

In addition to Childress, Whitehead, and Wiles, members of the board include Ken Crowder, Buck Beard, Jimmy Stitt, and Brad Medley. An arborist will also be on the board when one is located who is willing to serve. Advice will be sought from the Tennessee Department of Forestry and from Extension Agent Rick Skillington.