Belpre plants Arbor Day Tree at school

BELPRE – Belpre city and school officials got help from sixth-grade students in planting this year’s annual National Arbor Day Tree Friday morning.

City officials, including Mayor Mike Lorentz and his wife, Joyce, Safety-Service Director Dave Ferguson, auditor Leslie Pittenger and treasurer Bill McAfee, were joined by Belpre City Schools Superintendent Tony Dunn and Belpre Elementary School principal Bernie Boice with the aid of Jon Neff with Bob’s Market helped the nearly dozen sixth-grade student members of the Environmental Club plant the tree.

This year’s tree was planted in front of the elementary school with a sign to commemorate when and why it was planted.

“Every year we try to plant a tree that will provide shade and enjoyment for the community and place it in an area where it will thrive,” said Pittenger, who organizes the Belpre in Bloom citywide beautification project.

The students helped place dirt around the tulip poplar tree before they also placed mulch around the trunk to help protect it.

Lorentz talked to the students about the importance of trees and other plants before he read the proclamation.

“Plants not only beautify our world, but help keep us and the Earth healthy,” he said. “Everything we do is dependent on how we take care of what the good Lord gave us.”

Neff said the tree planted Friday will provide nice shade for the students to study and play under as it grows.

“It will eventually get to over 100-feet tall and as large as 35-feet around,” he said. “It will be a substantial tree to have in front of the school.”

Belpre has been named a Tree City USA for the 17th year, Lorentz said.

Parkersburg was given the distinction for the 15th year during its Arbor Day celebration April 19. Marietta held its tree planting April 7 to celebrate being a Tree City USA for 34 years.

Williamstown will plant a tree on Cherry Avenue at 11 a.m. Tuesday in honor of its 29th year with the distinction. Williamstown is the longest-running Tree City USA in West Virginia.

The four standards to qualify as a Tree City USA: an ordinance describing the care of trees on public property, a tree board dedicated to overseeing tree care, the city must spend at least $2 per capita on tree care for trees on public property, and scheduling an Arbor Day observance in the city each year.

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service. The foundation believes urban forests help clean the air, conserve soil and water, moderate temperature and bring nature into the daily lives of residents.