BELLEAIR BLUFFS — The city is planning a special event this year to teach kids the meaning of Arbor Day. On that day, Friday, April 26, at 10 a.m., children are invited to join Public Works Supervisor Russ Schmader in the park beside City Hall, where they will help plant a live oak tree to replace the historic live oak that had to be removed last fall.
That tree, though a landmark, was in declining condition and had become a hazard due to the danger of its huge, overhanging branches falling onto the playground, Schmader said.
Schmader told the city commission at their March 11 meeting that the planting of a replacement tree “will get the kids into the park to plant a tree, and teach about growing rather than removing.”
The goal of the event, according to a flyer from the city, is “to inform the meaning of planting a tree to our future generations. We welcome children to come participate with our Public Works team to plant a live oak in the park.”
Schmader said he has been looking forward to the Arbor Day planting activity “for months now.”
“We’ve been talking about it for a couple of months and I’m really excited to do it,” he said.
The hole for the tree will be dug the day before, Schmader said, and the kids will be given special shovels to help fill in the dirt around the new live oak. They will also be given a potted plant to take home.
In the process, the children will assist in replacing a historic tree with a new one, Schmader said, that would potentially live for hundreds of years, and become a city landmark in the park for future generations to enjoy.
The idea for Arbor Day was planted in the 1870s by Nebraska newspaper editor Julius Sterling Morton as a means of spreading knowledge of trees and to stress their ecological importance.
On that Arbor Day, all Nebraskans were encouraged to plant trees in their community, much of which lacked forestation. On the first Arbor Day, Morton led the charge to plant more than 1 million trees.
The Arbor Day event spread throughout the nation, and today the national observance is celebrated every year on the last Friday in April, when trees are in their best environment to thrive.
This year, Arbor Day will be a very special one for Belleair Bluffs, and will give kids in the community an opportunity to participate in the renewal of a lost historic treasure. One school group has already signed up to participate, City Administrator Debra Sullivan said.
City boards replenished
A new city board was established, another was revived, and a vacancy on a third is looking to be filled.
The commission passed a resolution establishing and appointing members to a new Finance Review Committee. Serving on the five-member board will be residents George Lawton, Jeff Lawlor, Trace Meeks, and Pete Fisher, and staff member Andrew Tess. Dave Shimkus will be an alternate member, and the Finance Commissioner will be a non-voting member who serves as a liaison to the commission.
The Finance Review Committee’s formation was promoted by Lawton, Sullivan pointed out. Lawton is a former corporate finance executive.
The Charter and Ordinance Review Committee, which only meets every seven to 10 years, is “overdue,” said Sullivan. Familiarity with the committee’s work is important, and Sullivan said she would like to see some of the same members rejoin. Former members Mary Lou Ambrose and David Shimkus have said they are willing to serve again, Sullivan said. The committee has three to five members.
The Planning Board is looking to replace longtime member and chairman Paul Kuykendall, who has moved to Dunedin. Residents willing to serve on the Planning Board are asked to call City Hall, 727-584-2151.