MC's Arbor Day Palooza brings state award

Mount Carroll’s Arbor Day Palooza held last October will receive a Governor’s Hometown Award in the Economic Opportunities category at a virtual ceremony on April 20. Jo-Carroll Energy President and CEO Mike Casper, front, and Mount Carroll Mayor Carl Bates shovel dirt onto a newly planted tree during the Oct. 16, 2020, event at the Stone House Memorial Park.

By SAMANTHA PIDDE

The City of Mount Carroll will be the recipient of a state plaque at an awards ceremony along with "bragging rights" for last fall's Arbor Day Palooza.

Last week the city learned it will receive the Governor's Hometown Award as a project winner in the category of Economic Opportunities. A virtual ceremony honoring the winners is scheduled for April 20. Each jurisdiction will receive a plaque and a road sign.

Mount Carroll’s Arbor Day Palooza was held Oct. 16, 2020, after the city's normal Arbor Day event had to be rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mount Carroll has been designated a Tree City for 26 years and the Palooza event allowed the city to maintain this status. Ald. Mike Risko gave an online slideshow presentation regarding the project on March 15.

Prior to the Palooza being held, the city worked along with the (Re)Tree (Our) City Group to raise funds to plant 50 trees within the community. The Mount Carroll Community Fund, Mount Carroll Rotary Club and the Mount Carroll Chamber of Commerce also assisted with the goal. In the application for the Governor's Hometown Award, Risko estimated that 38 volunteers contributed a total of 1,020 volunteer hours on the project.

The donation goal for the tree replacement was $5,000. The final amount of donations received was $13,486 ($12,500 in cash and $986 "in-kind'). This donation amount included a $2,000 grant from the Trees Forever Illinois Recover, Replant & Restore Program. Risko noted the project not only received support from the community but also received donations from former residents.

In the end, 52 trees of 16 different species were planted in the city's right-of-way. Risko said the planting gives the city "a good start" in replacing the more than a hundred trees that had to be removed due to the Emerald Ash Borer, other diseases and storm damage. Residents also were able to request free tree planting if they bought a tree from McCormick's Nursery to plant on their property.

"Planting new trees has a positive impact on the community in that it makes residents feel good about the place they live, work and play,” Risko said in the award application. “Trees also increase property values and have numerous environmental benefits.”

The Arbor Day Palooza event was held at the Stone House Memorial Park, with the planting ceremony of a White Oak tree and a Hackberry tree, a tour of the Stone House and refreshments provided. Risko said more than 50 persons attended, the largest attendance for an Arbor Day ceremony.

Risko expressed excitement regarding the Governor’s Hometown Award, saying it is a "great marketing tool" for Mount Carroll.