City celebrates Arbor Day
By SCOTT AUST
Because of Friday afternoon's rain, Garden City's Arbor Day tree planting ceremony was moved into the cafeteria at Charles O. Stones Intermediate Center.
The planting of the tree, an English Oak, will happen sometime next week. But Friday's Arbor Day celebration went on as planned as the winners of the Garden City 2013 Arbor Day poster contest were recognized.
The poster contest was open to fifth-graders across the state.
Megan Cady, of Charles O. Stone Intermediate, received first place in the city poster contest, and her poster also earned first place in the state forest service's Southwest District poster contest, making Cady one of six regional winners from across the state. The Kansas Forest Service's Southwest District covers 22 counties in southwest Kansas.
Cady's original poster was mounted and framed in recognition of finishing first in the region. Cady also received a backpack and a plaque, and her teacher, Richard Bender, received a tote bag containing educational posters and material for the classroom from the state.
Other city poster contest winners included Carson Linenberger, of Charles O. Stone Intermediate, who took second place, and Karly Larson, of Jennie Barker Elementary, who took third place.
The three city winners will receive a $75, $50, and $25 Chamber of Commerce gift certificates for finishing first, second and third.
Vice Mayor Dan Cessna read a proclamation about Arbor Day passed at the last Garden City Commission meeting.
According to the proclamation, in 1872, J. Sterling Morton proposed to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture setting aside a special day to plant trees, and the first observance of Arbor Day resulted in more than 1 million trees being planted in Nebraska.
Trees reduce erosion of topsoil by wind and water, cut heating and cooling costs, moderate temperature, clean the air, produce oxygen and provide habitat for wildlife, according to the proclamation.
In addition, Garden City has been recognized for 35 years as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
Alan Geier, city superintendent of public grounds, said to earn the Tree City designation, Garden City needed to have tree planting ceremonies, enact ordinances protecting trees, create a tree advisory board, and spend $2 per capita on care and maintenance of trees citywide, which amounts to $60,000 per year.
"We reach that goal quite readily every year," Geier said.
Students also learned about the city's tree rebate and tree loan program, which allows city residents to get a $50 rebate if they buy a tree that is at least 6 feet tall and on the list of recommended tree types for the region. Residents can take advantage of the program twice a year.
Under the loan program, residents can borrow up to $1,000 to pay for pruning or removing trees, paid back over 12 months.
Students also got some tips about planting trees.
Steve Michel, a member of the parks and tree advisory board, said the city's soil has a high pH level. As a result, the tree board has developed a list of tree types they recommend for planting that do well in the area's soil.
Other tips included digging a hole that is three times wider than the tree base when planting, only digging the hole as deep as the first lateral root, putting a layer of mulch around the tree and watering a little extra while being careful to not overwater.
"Garden City is considered a semi-arid region," he said. "We are the short grass prairie. Originally, there were no trees here. Every tree that is in the city was brought in. So we have to give trees some additional moisture so they can survive here."