Volunteers brave cold, rain to give back for Arbor Day

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The cold temperature and rain that swept into East Texas did not prevent the Arbor Day celebration and Community Give-Back from taking place at the Mineola Civic Center Saturday morning.

Joe Moore of the civic center board of directors, one of the organizers of the event, said about 30 volunteers showed up. Work that was done included stump removal and the cleaning of flumes in the RV pad area on the north side.

Many of the volunteers remained for the hot dog lunch and Arbor Day ceremony kicked off by members of Mineola Boy Scout Troop 385 with the posting of colors. Moore recognized the civic center board members and manager who showed up do the work and cook for the volunteers. He also introduced city representatives present at the ceremony.

Moore asked the crowd if they knew when was a good time to plant a tree. “Fifty years ago,” he said. The second best time is now. As far as the Give Back event, Moore said that many people were aware of what Harry Meredith did for the community and, “This is just our way of showing our appreciation by doing some work around here that he gave his time and his efforts and his monies to make possible.”

The official Arbor Day for Texas is the first Friday in November. “I really hate it that there’s an Arbor Day,” Moore said. “As a forester, I always wanted Arbor season.”

Daniel Duncum of the Forest Service said managing older trees is “a little bit more difficult,” than planting trees. However, as far as impact on the environment, older trees are much more valuable. “The fact is, they don’t grow up very fast. So you’ve got to continually be planting,” Duncum said. He said when planting, people need to create a diverse urban forest, “as diverse as what God created in the world for us.”

“There’s something about the human psyche, that we just gravitate towards trees,” the Forest Service official said. Duncum also mentioned if the city wants to become a Tree City, USA, he would be happy to help.

Civic Center President George Assaf thanked everyone for being there. “Nancy Murphy did a rain dance by mistake,” he said, eliciting laughter from the dirty, wet and cold volunteers. “We got rain that we were not counting on, but most of you just struggled through it and helped us.” Despite what many people think, Assaf pointed out, the civic center is not city supported and it needs the community’s support to help sustain it. He said sometime in the future the public may be called upon to help out again.

Mineola Mayor Kevin White declared Saturday as Arbor Day in Mineola. Drawing from his background as a history teacher, White noted forest planning wasn’t something that was given a name in the early days of cities. “Cities before air conditioning had streets that ran north and south,” he said, “and they lined the trees on that to create natural wind tunnels. Shade, and wind, cooled neighborhoods.” After air conditioning was developed it didn’t matter which way streets were oriented. He noted in Mineola most of the north, south streets are lined with trees while the east, west streets are not. “Because they don’t want the wind blocked.”

After the speeches the group gathered behind a dogwood tree in the ground for a commemorative photo.

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