Palooza nets Hometown Award

City of Mount Carroll officials, from left, Ald. Mike Risko, Ald. Paul Kaczmarski, City Clerk Lisa Lewis, Ald. Jeff Elliott and Mayor Carl Bates stand with the Governor's Hometown Award sign the city received last week for its Arbor Day Palooza project held in October 2020, in which more than 50 trees were planted in the city right-of-way. The sign will be erected at the south entrance to Mount Carroll.

By SAMANTHA PIDDE

Mount Carroll City crews are installing a sign this week at south edge of town proclaiming the community as a 2020 Project Winner for the Governor's Hometown Award.

The city was notified in March that it would receive the award as a project winner in the category of Economic Opportunities. A virtual ceremony was held by the state on April 20.

The sign and a plaque were awarded to Mount Carroll for its Arbor Day Palooza on Oct. 16, 2020. The event had been rescheduled from April 2020 to October 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mount Carroll has been designated a Tree City for 26 years and the Arbor Day Palooza event allowed the city to maintain this status. The 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. More than 50 persons attended. Ald. Mike Risko gave an online slideshow presentation regarding the project on March 15.

In preparation for the Palooza in October 2020, the city worked along with the (Re)Tree (Our) City Group to raise funds to plant 50 trees within the community. Organizations assisting with this goal included: The Mount Carroll Community Fund; Mount Carroll Rotary Club; Mount Carroll Chamber of Commerce. 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. The project received support not only from the community but also received donations from former residents.

In total, the 2020 Arbor Day Palooza allowed for the planting of 52 trees of 16 different species in the city's right-of-way. This allowed the city to begin replacing trees which had to be removed due to the Emerald Ash Borer, other diseases and storm damage. Residents also were able to request free tree plantings if they bought a tree from McCormick's Nursery to plant on their property.

The City of Mount Carroll received the Governor's Hometown Award sign last week and displayed it this weekend, as part of the Fourth of July parade.