SIDNEY — Shelby County’s official bicentennial tree — a white oak — was planted Saturday, Oct. 5, during a ceremony at the courthouse in celebration of the county’s 200th anniversary.
“I was asked here today to share my love for the white oak tree with you,” said Wendi Van Buren, urban forester with the ODNR Division of Forestry. ” Shelby County Ohio Bicentennial Tree Subcommittee selected the official tree as the white oak, Quercus alba and it is a great choice due to this native, shade tree being long-lived and an important part of Ohio’s ecosystem. White oak is part of the emergent layer of our Ohio forests, which are trees whose crowns emerge above the rest of the canopy, reaching 100 feet tall. This upper layer is important part of the structure of a forest, a unique and required habitat for Ohio wildlife to live their full lifespans.
“The name white oak comes from the undersides of its leaves are which are white-green, and its wood is a light-colored beige that is almost white when freshly cut and the finished wood. White oak makes a lovely yard tree with light gray bark and deep green lobed leaves,” she said. “Its spreading round crown creates shade that lowers our utility bills and increases our property values. It is also the most important tree in supporting birds, mammals, and pollinator populations. White oak is a lovely street tree, and this time of year the gorgeous fall color is reddish-brown to reddish-purple. White oak may live 200 to 300 years, with some even older specimens known.”
Sidney High School senior Delaney Wilson, daughter of Chuck and Stephanie Wilson, of Sidney, sang the National Anthem. Ann Asher, Joyce Reier and Duane Gaier, all members of the bicentennial tree sub committee also spoke.
Asher recited Joyce Kilmer’s poem, “Trees.” Reier read a passage from Herman Hesse’s work, “Trees — Reflections and Poems.” Gaier discussed the process the committee used to select Shelby County’s bicentennial tree.
Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst read a proclamation about the event. Bornhorst and Commissioner Bob Guillozet planted the white oak.
“Bob and I want to thank the Official Bicentennial Tree Subcommittee for their efforts in selecting the tree, and putting together this ceremony today,” said Mike Barhorst, Sidney mayor and co-chairman of the bicentennial committee. “We especially want to thank Joe White Landscaping for selecting and planting this tree. In addition to the tree planted here, 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. 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,” said Barhorst.
“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 as well as Fairhaven are planning their own tree planting ceremonies,” he said.
Sidney United Methodist Church’s Men’s Assemble sang “America the Beautiful” to conclude the ceremony.