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April 11, 2014

London Recognized as a Tree City

CORBIN — By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer

The weather was perfect for planting trees. The sun was shining, the air was warm and the grass was green. A crowd of more than 100 people gathered to see proclamations read and awards given out on a stage located at the future site of the London Wellness Park.

The National Arbor Day Foundation gave London a Tree City USA award, which classified the city as one of several “Tree Cities” in the United States. According to Kentucky Division of Forestry Public Information Officer Jennifer Turner, this is London’s third year as a Tree City.

Mayor Troy Rudder referred to London as “The Garden City — Where Nature Counts” when he accepted the plaque honoring London as a Tree City. Judge-Executive David Westerfield also spoke in honor of the award.

“This is an important time each year,” he said.

Dr. Leonard Peters with the Kentucky Division of Forestry mentioned a devastating 2012 tornado that destroyed part of East Bernstadt, and stated Laurel County forests were still recovering from the storm.

“It’s going to take all of us,” Peters said. “There’s nothing we can do to help the environment more than planting trees.”

Peters then explained to students from Bush Elementary School that each tree, like them, was “a little bit different.”

“We aren’t going to replace all the trees just yet but we can get started,” he said.

The final speaker was Dan Lamb with the National Arbor Day Foundation.

“You’re lucky to live in a state that acknowledges the importance of trees,” Lamb said. “It takes strong leadership to be a Tree City.”

Following the presentation of a Tree City flag for London to fly, Rudder handed out Tree Hero awards to Boy Scout Troop 828 and Doug Bennett on behalf of the Laurel County school district for their help in planting thousands of trees across the county.

“As you grow, these trees will grow,” Bennett told the 80 first-graders from Bush Elementary who were standing in the crowd. They would go on after the celebration to plant trees at the Whitley Branch Wetland Restoration Project.

Rudder also read a proclamation declaring April 10 this year’s official date for celebrating Arbor Day in London.

The celebration was part of the national Tree Recovery Campaign, and the Arbor Day Foundation partnered with corporate sponsors FedEx and Lexmark to provide 5,000 native hardwood seedlings to Laurel County residents with the intent to replenish part of the forest lost in the 2012 tornado.

“Trees are an integral part of recovery from disaster,” Lamb said.

The celebration also kicks off a program instigated by Governor Steve Beshear for his 20/20 Vision Project, which has a goal of planting one million trees per year over the next 20 years.

The celebration ended with a ceremonial planing of a black gum tree at the wellness park site by Rudder, Westerfield, members of the Kentucky Division of Forestry, and members of the National Arbor Day Foundation.

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