OTTAWA — The village of Ottawa has received Tree City USA status for its 15th year recognizing the village for its commitment to manage and expand public trees.
The Arbor Day Foundation notified the village in December they received the recognition for the year 2018. They have achieved Tree City USA status by meeting core standards including maintaining a Shade Tree Commission, having a community tree ordinance and spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.
Jo Deskins, village council member and council liaison for the Shade Tree Commission, said the purpose of the commission is to ensure that there are policies in place for the planting, care and removal of hazardous trees.
“For communities that have aesthetics of trees, it shows that we have an environmental responsibility to take care of our environment,” Deskins said. She added that trees provide clean air and their growth contributes to a better environment.
“This award establishes us as a unified community. We performed a hazardous tree assessment a couple of years ago to designate trees in a storm or inclement weather that might have the possibility of coming down,” Deskins said.
Ottawa’s tree commission includes three village residents, a village employee serving as secretary and treasurer, a village council liaison, the village municipal director and the mayor.
She said the village has a tree ordinance that guides the planning of planting of trees and the needed removal of trees from the streets.
“Arbor Day is the last Friday of April and we celebrate that with fourth graders at Ottawa Elementary and St. Peter and Paul by planting trees,” Deskins said. The event teaches students responsibility and about caring for the environment she said.
She said the program has expanded to sending out educational enrichment activities that teachers can do within the classroom. A poster contest also is sponsored where there is a winner at Ottawa Elementary and St. Peter and Paul schools and are awarded plaques that are donated by the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Mayor Dean Meyer said obtaining the status shows the village cares about its environment.
“This shows we care about our aesthetics, as well as the health benefits trees can give us,” Meyer said.
He said the Shade Tree Committee is an important committee in the village because it goes further than aesthetics. It’s about safety and health benefits also, Meyer said.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.