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City celebrates Arbor Day, Tree City USA designation

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POSTED: February 23, 2014 7:00 a.m.
Jeff Whitten/

Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler holds up a plaque the city received for becoming a Tree City during an Arbor Day celebration on Friday at J.F. Gregory Park. Behind him with the Tree City USA flag are city planner Jennifer Sowell, who spearheaded the effort to earn the Tree City status, and Harvey Lashley, director of the city’s Parks and Tree department.

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Rain held off just long enough Friday morning for Richmond Hill to commemorate Georgia Arbor Day with a brief ceremony in J.F. Gregory Park.
With the Veterans Memorial in the background, Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler got started by reading a proclamation extolling the virtues of trees perhaps a dozen feet from the spot where city workers had already planted a young weeping willow.
“Trees in our city increase property values, enhance the economic vitality of our business areas and beautify our community,” Fowler read. “And whereas trees are a source of joy and spiritual renewal …”
Afterward, Parks and Trees Director Harvey Lashley and City Planner Jessica Sowell followed by unveiling a flag and a plaque marking the city’s official status as a Tree City.
It’s a first for Richmond Hill, Sowell said, and the result of a lengthy process that included various criteria, including holding an Arbor Day Celebration, having a tree ordinance, establishing a tree board and allotting money for tree preservation and care — the latter apparently accomplished through the city’s Parks and Tree budget.
“We’ve been working on it for about a year,” Sowell said afterward, as clouds darkened overhead. “We just got the notification a few weeks ago we were going to get it. We’re hoping we can use the status to help us with funding because we can say we’re a Tree City. And of course, everybody likes trees.”
Pembroke’s Arbor Day celebration was postponed until 10:30 a.m. Friday at Dubois Square.

 

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