Tree City USA Awards program canceled

Sidney luncheon called off due to pandemic

SIDNEY — The Tree City USA Southwest Region Awards luncheon, set for June 19, has been canceled due to COVID-19.

Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst sent letters to the mayors, managers and administrators of the governmental entities who were planning to attend this year’sluncheon advising that the event had been canceled. The event, originally scheduled to be held April 17 and rescheduled for June 19, was the latest Sidney Bicentennial event to be canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a city of Sidney press release said.

More than 200 individuals representing 45 different government entities were scheduled to attend the luncheon. The event would have been held at the Sidney-Shelby County Senior Center. The “youngest” Tree City to have been recognized would have been the city of Beavercreek, a Tree City since 2018. The oldest Tree City in the Southwest Region is Cincinnati, a city that first achieved Tree City USA status in 1981. The city of Sidney has been a Tree City since 1989.

In addition to Sidney, other governmental entities that would have received awards in Sidney would have included Anderson and Columbia Townships, the villages of Amberly, Georgetown, Glendale, Greenfield, Greenhills, Lockland, Mariemont, Morrow, New Richmond, Ripley, Silverton, Spring Valley, Terrace Park, Williamsburg, Woodlawn and Versailles, the cities of Cincinnati, Beavercreek, Centerville, Dayton, Fairfield, Forest Park, Hamilton, Harrison, Kettering, Lebanon, Miamisburg, Middletown, Milford, Montgomery, Moraine, Oakwood, Oxford, Piqua, Springboro, Springdale, Tipp City, Troy, Vandalia, West Carrollton and Wyoming, as well as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“Canceling the event was difficult,” Barhorst said. “When we started planning Sidney Bicentennial events more than 36 months ago, we knew that one of the things we wanted to do was to host this year’s Southwest Region Tree City USA Awards Ceremony. Sidney’s Tree Board, under the leadership of Chair Ann Asher, has put a great deal of planning into the event.“

In the letter sent to the mayors, managers and administrators of the various entities, Barhorst wrote:

“Like you, no one on the committee had heard of COVID-19 thirty-six months ago. Thus, when I sent out the invitations to join us for this year’s celebration, we had already ordered red oak seedlings so that all those in attendance would have Sidney’s official Bicentennial Tree to take home and plant in their yard. The venue was determined, the caterer selected, the menu chosen, vendors contacted, the speaker identified, and a host of other details attended to.”

“I had little idea that Sidney’s Tree Board would eventually be tasked with making the decision to cancel this year’s event,” Barhorst said. “In an effort to help safeguard the health and welfare of our guests, we reluctantly made the decision. It was difficult, as every one of our Bicentennial events, excepting drinking the toast to Sidney’s future on February 12, has thus far been cancelled.”

“The City of Montgomery will host next year’s Tree City USA ceremony on April 23, 2021,” Barhorst wrote. “They have graciously offered to partner with us as they plan their event. Certainly we are grateful for their magnanimous offer. Unfortunately, some of the things we had purchased as gifts this year will not save until next year (the red oak seedlings, for example). Other items will be part of the décor at next year’s event.”

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Urban Forester Wendi VanBuren will be making certain each of the communities involved receives the Tree City USA awards and other materials that would have been presented at this year’s event. As an employee of the state of Ohio, VanBuren has been working from home during much of the past several weeks. She is now able to meet one-on-one so long as both parties wear masks and social distancing is followed.

“Because of the many people involved and the number of moving parts, I felt particularly badly that this event had to be canceled,” Barhorst said. “The Tree Board, including Ann Asher, Michael Jannides, Ann Sharp, Rick Steenrod and Ross Moore, city of Sidney Arborist Brian Green, and Sidney Bicentennial Committee members Duane Gaier, Joyce Reier and Mrs. Asher, who did double duty, all spent untold hours getting ready for what would have been a wonderful event. Certainly Co-Chair Bob Guillozet and I thank them for their tireless efforts.”

The 200 red oak seedlings purchased for the event will be offered for sale later this year for $10 each.

“Residents who may want one of the ‘official’ Sidney Bicentennial trees will have the opportunity to pick one up and plant them on their property,” Guillozet said. “We’ll provide additional information on the first-come, first-served sale of the trees at a later date.”

“Residents who purchase one of the trees should make certain that their property could accommodate one of the trees,” Green said. “The trees will potentially grow to a height of 60 to 75 feet, and have a canopy width of 45 feet.”

Sidney luncheon called off due to pandemic