By WARREN SCOTT
FOLLANSBEE - For the 18th year the city was recognized as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Foundation during an Arbor Day program Wednesday involving children from Follansbee Middle School and city officials.
ARBOR DAY REMEMBERED — Children at Follansbee Middle School, city officials and Bob Hannah, urban forestry coordinator for the West Virginia Division of Forestry, observed Arbor Day Wednesday with a program that included a tree planting near the school and recognition of winners of an Arbor Day poster contest. With their winning entries are, from left, Civanna Tomes, who placed first; Destiny Huggins, second; and Michael Mitchell, third. Behind them are Follansbee Mayor Emeritus Tony Paesano, Mayor David Velegol and Hannah. -- Warren Scott
"In Follansbee, we've been connected with Arbor Day for a long time," said Tony Paesano who, as mayor emeritus, represents the city on such occasions. He was joined by Mayor David Velegol Jr. in accepting the honor.
Bob Hannah, urban forestry coordinator for the West Virginia Division of Forestry, was on hand to present to city officials a banner noting the honor, which is presented to cities with a tree board or department, an ordinance and budget for the care of trees on city property and a yearly observance of Arbor Day.
A regular part of that yearly observance is the planting of one or more trees by children from the school. Before they set about planting a tree near the city's softball field, Hannah recognized local winners of an Arbor Day poster contest in which pupils were challenged to create an image promoting the benefits of planting trees.
They were Civanna Tomes, who placed first; Destiny Huggins, second; and Michael Mitchell, third. Tomes received a $50 savings bond and all received gift certificates from McDonald's.
All of the fifth-graders were given saplings by Hannah to take home and plant.
Hannah also discussed the origin of Arbor Day, noting it was started in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton, a Nebraska newspaper editor.
Hannah said Arbor Day now is celebrated in Nebraska on April 22, Morton's birthday, and is observed nationally on the last Friday of April. But the West Virginia Division of Forestry has named May Arbor Month in recent years, he said.
Performing the national anthem for the event was the Follansbee Middle School Band under the direction of Jason Dean, the school's band director.