Bicentennial tree ceremony set for Saturday

SINEY — Local officials will gather Saturday morning, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m. for a brief ceremony marking the official planting of the Shelby County Bicentennial Tree. The county’s official tree will be planted on the grounds on the south side of the Shelby County Courthouse.

The tree selected as the official tree was the white oak. The tree was selected by the Shelby County Bicentennial Tree Subcommittee last year, in part because it was native to Shelby County and in part because of its longevity.

“We wanted to select a tree that had the potential to be here when Shelby County celebrates her tercentenary,” Subcommittee Chair Duane Gaier said. “The white oak is slow growing, but specimens can last hundreds of years,

“In addition, the white oak can grow to be 150 feet tall, is prized for its timber, and when harvested, provides hard, durable timber,” he said.

“Ohio Department of Natural Resources Urban Forester Wendi Van Buren has been invited to speak at the event,” Sidney Mayor and Bicentennial Co-Chair Mike Barhorst said. “She knows more about oak trees than anyone I know and could literally speak for hours about more than 50 different species of oak trees.”

“There were hundreds of mature oak trees in Shelby County when the land was inhabited by native Americans,” Shelby County Commissioner and Bicentennial Committee Co-Chair Bob Guillozet stated. “When settlers arrived, they began cutting them and hewing the timber for homes and barns. Their disappearance completely changed the landscape of Shelby County.”

According to the National Audubon Society, the white oak tree (Quercus alba) is a long-lived tree used for shade in landscapes and it is one of the most important timber species in the United States. The white oak has the nickname stave oak, since its wood is integral in making barrels. Shipbuilders in colonial times valued the wood as well.

In fact, the world’s oldest commissioned warship, the USS Constitution, gained fame in the War of 1812 when she defeated five British warships: HMS Guerriere, Java, Pictou, Cyane, and Levant. The battle with the Guerriere earned her the nickname “Old Ironsides,” so named because cannon balls bounced off her sides. The USS Constitution is constructed of white oak.

Today, white oak goes into products such as flooring, furniture and beams. The white oak’s range includes most of the eastern United States. The tree is vital to the animals that exist where it grows.

In addition to the courthouse ceremony, bicentennial trees are being planted at all the county high schools and at Fairhaven. Jason Weigandt Landscaping is planting trees at Fairlawn, Houston, Russia, Jackson Center, and Tawawa Park. Gehret Landscaping is planting the tree at Fort Loramie High school. Joe White Landscaping is planting the tree at the courthouse. Progreen is planting the tree at Botkins High School. Dicke Lawn Service is planting the tree at Anna High School. Shelby Landscaping is planting the tree at Fairhaven.

Each tree will have a plaque, provided by the Bicentennial Committee, placed near the tree so that future generations will know that the tree was planted as part of Shelby County’s Bicentennial celebration. Some of the schools are planning their own observances.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony Saturday morning on the Courtsquare.