Franklin celebrates 30 years as a Tree City
Published 10:44 am Saturday, November 8, 2014
In the early hours of Thursday morning, six new residents were brought to Franklin. Just before the rain started to beat down heavily, the Brandywine Maple trees were planted along Second Avenue near the Blackwater Bridge.
“Franklin is a great place to be a tree,” said Scott Bachman later that afternoon at the ceremony. He’s senior area forester with the Virginia Department of Forestry.
The Franklin Office of Community Development invited the children of the Courtland Head Start Center, along with the Franklin High School Community Based Instruction Recycling Team and city officials, to declare Nov. 6 as Arbor Day for Franklin. Bachman also unveiled a flag, which he believes is the first one of its kind that he has seen — 30 years as a Tree City USA.
“Believe it or not, Franklin has been celebrating trees for 30 years — that’s almost as old as I am,” said Bachman with a laugh. “And we should celebrate trees. You know, a tree planted today is really for someone else.
“In 30 years, a tree planted today is going to be giant, maybe one day your kids will sit under it and eat ice cream,” Bachman told the Head Start students. To which, they said, “We like ice cream.”
The trees were planted as a partnership between the Virginia Master Naturalists and the City of Franklin Beautification Commission. Ron Rusnak was there for the naturalists.
“Hopefully, what starts as six trees will one day become a park with walking trails, so that we can have a place to escape the daily challenges we all face,” Rusnak said. “I joined the Virginia Master Naturalists after reading about it in The Tidewater News. I felt like it matched my interests. I not only enjoyed the field trips, but I also met some wonderful people who love nature and have a huge amount of energy to improve the outdoors.”
Mary Frances Abbitt was on the Beautification Commission 30 years ago and has been present for all Tree City USA ceremonies.
She said she originally joined out of a love for the environment, and that also kept her going. Abbitt said she wished more people would get involved, but she hoped those present got something out of it.
“This event has been very nice,” she said. “I hope the children remember it.”
As for the children, they were able to call on Smokey the Bear, who is celebrating his 75th birthday this year.
“But he doesn’t look a day over 60,” joked Bachman.
The children also dedicated the ceremony with a song, “All the Leaves are Falling Down.” Then they made crafts that they could feed to birds at a later date. Mary Hilliard of Ward 5 was also present and read the proclamation.
“We urge all citizens to plant trees to gladden the heart and promote the well-being of this and future generations,” she read.
Ward 6’s Frank Rabil said he hopes this is something that the city can keep going for another 30 years.
“Just to be recognized for 30 years is a major accomplishment,” he said. “It says a lot about the involvement of the people in our community to come together for a common cause.”