Parkersburg Big Tree contest winners announced

PARKERSBURG – Though rain may have forced the festivities inside Friday, it did little to dampen the Arbor Day celebration in Parkersburg

Though normally held at Bicentennial Park beneath the Farmers Market tent, heavy rain and wind forced the event inside of the Parkersburg Municipal Building.

Even so, the event, now in its 16th year, featured performances by the Parkersburg South High School Jazz Band under the direction of Eric Staats and a presentation of colors by the Parkersburg High School Cadet Corps.

Parkersburg City Planner Rickie Yeager said this year’s Arbor Day celebration was particularly important because of last year’s massive derecho storm which damaged trees and buildings throughout the city.

“A lot of our trees were severely damaged and some had to be removed,” he said. The Parkersburg Tree Commission has been working to replace those trees lost during the storm, he said, with the city investing about $120,000 in materials and manpower “to maintain our urban forests.”

Mayor Bob Newell welcomed those in attendance and read a proclamation naming April 19 as Arbor Day for the City of Parkersburg.

West Virginia State Forester Robert Hannah gave a brief history of Arbor Day and a presented city officials with a banner proclaiming Parkersburg as a Tree City USA.

This marks the 15th year the city has received the Tree City USA designation, and Parkersburg is one of only 16 cities in West Virginia to receive the recognition, Hannah said.

Tree Commission Chairman Turner Sharp announced this year’s Big Tree winners.This is the 11th year of the contest, and this year nine trees were entered in the competition, including several winners from years past.

In third place was a white oak tree owned by John Saulton, with a circumference of 135.4 inches.

In second place was a tree owned by Greg and Julia Wise. The White Oak has a circumference of 155.2 inches

This year’s winner was a Silver Maple owned by Ryan and Tomi Green. The tree has a circumference of 203.3 inches.

Officials say they will update the city’s Big Tree register within the next few weeks. The register is online at www.parkersburgcity.com/treecommission.