By Brian Livingston
Noting that when he took office the area around the newly renovated City Hall in downtown Meridian looked, well, bland, Mayor Percy Bland told Kevin Locke, the senior planner for the city, that things were about to change.
"There were no trees," Bland said during a Friday celebration of Arbor Day on the rear lawn at City Hall. "I told Kevin that was about to change."
Friday morning the changes were beginning with the planting of the first oak tree. Others were lying on the ground waiting to be stood up and dropped in holes.
William Duffee, a member of the Meridian Tree Commission, said this was the 25th year, the Silver Anniversary, of Arbor Day celebrations in Meridian. In addition to outliving the advantages to having a tree-rich city, Duffee singled out several corporate sponsors who donated funds and trees to the event.
"Sponsors are so important and their commitment to Meridian in the form of these trees will last for decades," Duffee said.
Bland said the trees represented the desire of some of the leaders of the community to keep Meridian beautiful.
"Some of these trees cost about five dollars," Bland said. "But the larger trees that will provide shade and so many other benefits we can't even see are much more expensive … so we owe a lot to the sponsors."
The ceremony concluded with a seedling tree giveaway sponsored by the Apache Corporation through its tree grant program. Apache, headquartered in Houston, Texas, has awarded nearly 3.7 million trees to nonprofit organizations in 16 states since 2005 to help improve wildlife habitats, restore storm damage and enhance cities and neighborhoods in areas where the company operates.
Seedlings for this year’s giveaway consisted of several varieties of fruit trees from each of the following selections: Pear, Apple, Plum and Mayhaw.
Meridian was recognized by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA in 1990, and has maintained the annual designation ever since.
By Brian Livingston
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