Rain held off just long enough Friday morning for Richmond Hill to commemorate Georgia Arbor Day with a brief ceremony in J.F. Gregory Park.
With the Veterans Memorial in the background, Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler got started by reading a proclamation extolling the virtues of trees perhaps a dozen feet from the spot where city workers had already planted a young weeping willow.
“Trees in our city increase property values, enhance the economic vitality of our business areas and beautify our community,” Fowler read. “And whereas trees are a source of joy and spiritual renewal …”
Afterward, Parks and Trees Director Harvey Lashley and City Planner Jessica Sowell followed by unveiling a flag and a plaque marking the city’s official status as a Tree City.
It’s a first for Richmond Hill, Sowell said, and the result of a lengthy process that included various criteria, including holding an Arbor Day Celebration, having a tree ordinance, establishing a tree board and allotting money for tree preservation and care — the latter apparently accomplished through the city’s Parks and Tree budget.
“We’ve been working on it for about a year,” Sowell said afterward, as clouds darkened overhead. “We just got the notification a few weeks ago we were going to get it. We’re hoping we can use the status to help us with funding because we can say we’re a Tree City. And of course, everybody likes trees.”
Pembroke’s Arbor Day celebration was postponed until 10:30 a.m. Friday at Dubois Square.