LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The Laurel County Wellness Park near Somerset Community College came to life Thursday morning with the arrival of 50 vehicles, approximately 70 elementary school students, and officials representing London, Laurel County and international organizations.
April 10 marked the observance of Arbor Day in the City of London. Mayor Troy Rudder and Judge Executive David Westerfield took the opportunity to accept their “Tree City USA” designation, while Leah MacSwords and Len Peters – representing the Forestry Service – allotted time to commend reforestation in Laurel County.
“Arbor Day has been celebrated for the past 117 years in Kentucky,” MacSwords said. “It’s the forestry service’s favorite holiday. Today, we’re following Gov. Steve Beshear’s plan to plant one million trees per year for 20 years.”
Jennifer Turner, also representing the Forestry Service in Kentucky, commended Laurel County’s ability to unite public and private efforts toward environmental recovery. Her comments came in the wake of learning only 1,200 trees remained out of 5,000 trees that were given freely to Laurel County citizens for the purpose of reforestation.
For the past week, seedlings – courtesy of FedEx and LexMart – have been available at the London Farmer’s Market, the Dixie Street Fire station, East Bernstadt Fire station as well as East Bernstadt School. They have since gone out the door and into the ground, playing a major role in reforesting the region.
As of 5:15 p.m. Thursday, every seedling was gone.
“It’s excellent that there has been a response here in London,” Turner said. “It’s having the public say, ‘Sure, I’ll help,’ when asked.”
Len Peters, Kentucky Division of Forestry secretary, addressed the crowd of about 100 at the Wellness Park with sentiments involving a community’s response toward disaster. He alluded to the tragic 2012 tornadoes and the remaining amount of work to be done.
“It’s a great day, but we have to remember the homes and trees that are still in the process of recovery,” Peters said. “We have vowed to plant 20 million trees over 20 years. It’s the largest goal in the U.S., one that will require all of us.”