By Debbie Adams
The Town of Vinton has been designated as a Tree City USA for the past 21 years. In order to retain the Tree City USA designation, the town is required to hold an Arbor Day Celebration, along with tree plantings and tree education outreach each year.
This year’s Arbor Day celebration was held at Herman L. Horn Elementary School on April 28 with HLH students, staff, and representatives from the town participating in the event, facilitated by Vinton’s Planning and Zoning Department.
Associate Planner Fayula Gordon opened the Arbor Day assembly with an explanation of Arbor Day and the poem “Come and Plant a Tree,” which says in part, “Plant a tree to save the world; plant a tree to save the earth; tree provides the shelter and food, cleans up the air and makes it good; cools up the ground and cools up the ways; bring clouds and trees bring rain; trees add beauty to our place.”
Vinton Mayor Brad Grose led the audience in the traditional “Let’s Go Trees” and “Let’s Go Bees!” cheers, along with some loud buzzing. (The bee is the Herman L. Horn mascot.) He noted that trees are so important to Vinton that the town is about to undertake a study to count just how many trees it has.
The mayor declared April 28 as Arbor Day in Vinton at the Town Council meeting on April 18. The official proclamation stated, “In 1872, J. Sterling Morton proposed to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture that a special day be set aside for the planting of trees; this holiday, called Arbor Day, was first observed with the planting of more than a million trees in Nebraska; Arbor Day is now observed throughout the nation and the world.”
The Proclamation went on to say that “trees can reduce the erosion of our precious topsoil by wind and water, cut heating and cooling costs, moderate the temperature, clean the air, produce oxygen and provide habitat for wildlife; trees are a renewable source giving us paper, wood for our homes, fuel for our fires and countless other wood products; trees in our town increase property values, enhance the economic vitality of business areas, and beautify our community; and trees, wherever they are planted, are a source of joy and spiritual renewal.”
Next up in the program was the annual “Recycling Fashion Show” in which fourth and fifth graders in the SCA dress up and walk the runway in fashions made from recyclable materials– to the cheers of fellow students. Costumes were judged by a panel made up of Town of Vinton staff.
Fourth graders on parade included:
- Hayden McClure as “The Recycled Football Player”
- Jacob Tingler as “Earth Vader”
- Harper Cain as “Harper the Hockey Legend”
- Delaney Blewett as “The Daring Delaney”
- Spencer Boyd as “Optimistic Ocean”
- Landon Clinebell as “Recycle Back”
Fifth graders walking the runaway were:
- Zaniyah Jennings as “Recycled Sponge Bob”
- Brenner Alterio as “King Wasteless”
- Lorelai Colvin as “Pillowcase”
- Evan Bays as “Trashman Joe”
- Jostyn Atkinson as “Recycle Knight”
- Olivia Morrison as “Queen of Plastic”
- Maci Morrison as “Queen of Cardboard”
- Serenity Jones as “Trash Goddess”
- Owen Seth as “Cardboard Man”
- Riley Martin as “Jedi Recycle”
The winners were Brenner Alterio (King Wasteless) and Maci Morrison (Queen of Cardboard).
The SCA students then sang “They Paved Paradise” which included the lyrics, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. They took all the trees and put ’em in a tree museum and they charged the people a dollar and a half to see them!”
Senior Area Forester Denny McCarthy (from the Virginia Dept. of Forestry) and Smokey Bear stopped by to greet the students and remind them about the value of trees. McCarthy described Arbor Day as a “birthday for trees.”
McCarthy also talked to the students about the importance of trees– to increase property values, to reduce the need for air conditioning when trees are planted near homes for shade, and to reduce heating costs when trees are planted near homes as wind buffers. Trees also assist with minimizing stormwater run-off through “interception” of rainwater by the tree crowns and leaves.
He also encouraged students to help prevent forest fires as forest fire season is just winding down.
The celebration then moved outside for the ceremonial planting of the Arbor Day tree (this year a Japanese Maple) by the current Herman L. Horn Students of the Month, the mayor, Smokey, and Gordon near the school playground.
Town of Vinton staff have been responsible for securing Virginia Department of Forestry grant funding each year, for 22 years, by partnering with the Roanoke Valley Urban Forestry Council and the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC) in submitting the grant request, with the Town providing the required matching funds.
These funds have enabled the town to plant trees on public properties, including the elementary schools in Vinton, on Wolf Creek Greenway, at M.A. Banks Park, on the grounds of Vinton Public Works, the Vinton War Memorial, the Vinton Municipal Building, the Craig Avenue Recreation Center, and Glade Creek Greenway. This year the trees are being planted in the medians along the town’s rights-of-way on Hardy Road, Bypass Road, and Washington Avenue.