Arbor Day is normally celebrated the last Friday in April. But for Altamont, one of about 200 Illinois communities that celebrate Arbor Day, the celebration was postponed until October this year due to weather conditions. In April, it was far too wet and muddy to plant a new tree.
This past Monday, Oct. 30, various members of the Altamont Garden Club, ACHS FFA Forestry Class, the Arbor Day Committee, and the Altamont Tree Board met in Schmidt Park to plant a tree in celebration of Arbor Day. This year’s tree is dedicated in memory of Leila Richter, a longtime Garden Club member.
Some of the FFA students dug the hole to plant the new tree. It is a Magnolia tree which is about five years old. Carol Tillman stated that the tree will grow to be about 50 feet tall.
Altamont has a history of taking pride in the trees in their community. Altamont has earned the Tree City USA designation for over 31 years running, one of the longest stretches for any city. The only other cities in the area that come close are Centralia and Highland that have achieved the designation 29 straight years.
The Tree City USA designation is awarded by the National Arbor Day Foundation which recognized cities nationally for their care and use of community trees. The program is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and cities are often recommended with the help of state foresters. To reach Tree City USA designation, a city must have a tree care ordinance, a legal tree governing body, a comprehensive urban forestry program, and an annual Arbor Day Celebration.
The National Arbor Day Foundation is a non-profit educational organization which helps people understand the proper care, maintenance, and planting of trees. This organization sprung up due to the spread of Arbor Day which has roots all the way back to 1872 in Nebraska.
Altamont’s celebration of Arbor Day comes together through the work of several groups, not just the Arbor Day Committee. The Altamont Tree Board helps to uphold the civic pride in our communities’ trees and keep Altamont as a Tree City USA designated town. Tree Board members include Anthony (Tony) Arend, Terry Woodward, Jerry Hoffmeister, Rick Seagle, Lynn A. Kull, and Sarah Stephen.
The Altamont Garden Club also plays a big part in maintaining the beautification of Altamont. The Garden Club was established in April of 1962 with the mission of helping the beautification of Altamont and currently consists of over 30 members. Some of their many projects include sponsoring the hanging baskets downtown, hosting the Fall Festival in Schmidt Park, Garden of the Month awards, the Planter at the High School stop sign, and landscaping beds in Altamont’s parks and at the Living Museum. This past summer the club, along with the city, recognized a long time goal of putting up lamps in Schmidt Park along the walking path. The club meets September to April on the third Tuesday of the month.