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Lee Gregg, a botanist on the Shade Tree Commission, helps third-graders from East Elementary spread mulch at the Theta Chi Fraternity in celebration of Arbor Day on Friday.(Gwen Titley | PICTURE EDITOR)

Athens holds Arbor Day tree planting

Children gathered around the planting ceremony of three new trees facing East State Street in front of the Theta Chi fraternity house Friday for the Athens annual Arbor Day celebration.

“Trees provide us with so many benefits that we take for granted. Arbor Day is a way to make people aware of what trees have to offer our city,” said Ron Lucas, street maintenance specialist and member of the Athens Shade Tree Commission.

The commission stresses the importance of properly planting and choosing the right types of trees, as well as maintaining them, Lucas, an alumnus of Theta Chi, said.

Lee Gregg, a local botanist and member of the commission, instructed the second-grade children of East Elementary on proper planting and mulching techniques.


Alvi McWilliams, an active member of the Athens Shade Tree Commission, contacted Theta Chi to host the celebration.

“We have loved being a part of this. It is important for the community, and we definitely are planning on making it an annual celebration,” said William Taylor, president of the Theta Chi fraternity.

“I think it is important to incorporate interest in trees for the youth of Athens. We are a tree city and we need to have the right trees in the right place,” Gregg said.

Athens has been a part of Tree City USA for 21 years, which provides certain requirements and obligations from the city. There is an allotted budget of approximately $4,000 from general income taxes dedicated to maintaining, adding and taking care of trees.

“I think the Arbor Day celebration is a great way to teach kids how to take care of our city,” Mayor Paul Wiehl said. “It is more than simply planting trees, it is taking care of them, too.”

Trees are able to serve purposes beyond aesthetically pleasing members of the city. They can hold large amounts of water that prevent sewer damage, generate more oxygen and save energy by providing shade for houses, Gregg said.


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