Williamstown plants tree for Arbor Day

WILLIAMSTOWN – The city Tuesday marked its 29th straight year as a member of Tree City USA, the longest consecutive period for any city in West Virginia.

Barbara Lewis, a member of Williamstown City Council and chairman of the Williamstown Tree Commission, was joined by Mayor Jean Ford and Andy Sheetz, partnership coordinator with the West Virginia Division of Forestry, on Tuesday for the annual planting of Williamstown’s Arbor Day tree.

“Williamstown became involved in the program in 1983 and we have earned the title of Tree City USA ever since then,” Lewis said.

Seventeen cities in West Virginia also are Tree City USA participants.

“We’re proud of these accomplishments and we’re trying to do our part in protecting our environment,” she said.

The officials and several local residents gathered to plant a new dogwood tree in the 500 block of Cherry Avenue. Lewis said the new tree, which was planted in the city-owned greenspace between the street and sidewalk, replaces another tree which was previously planted in that location but later died.

Ford presented a proclamation recognizing Williamstown’s continued participation in the Tree City USA program, while Sheetz gave officials a new Tree City USA flag for the city of Williamstown.

Lewis said the tree commission’s budget was hit hard last year in the aftermath of the 2012 derecho, because of required tree and debris removal costs which had to come from that budget. However, the commission is moving forward and making plans for the future, with more plantings and a special celebration next year to mark what will be the 30th year for the program, she said.

There are 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 the 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 NADF believes urban forests help clean the air, conserve soil and water, moderate temperature and bring nature into the daily lives of residents.