Pictured: City of Cleveland, Cleveland Utilities and Shade Tree Board members display the city's 22nd consecutive Tree City USA flag. Holding the banner is Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, left, CU General Manager Ken Webb, Shade Tree Board Vice President Jo Benjamin, Cleveland Parks and Recreation Director Patti Pettit, Shade Tree Board member Amy Banks, back row, left to right, CU Electrical Engineering Manager Bart Borden, CU Operations Manager Dean Watson, Shade Tree Board member Matthew Coleman, Cleveland Urban Forester Dan Hartman, City Manager Janice Casteel, Shade Tree Board members John Thomason and Bradley County Commissioner Jeff Morelock, and Cleveland Vice Mayor Avery Johnson.
Four is the number of consecutive years the city of Cleveland, Cleveland Utilities and Cleveland State Community College have earned recognition in their respective categories as a Tree City USA, Tree Line City USA, and Tree Campus USA.
Twenty-two is the number of consecutive years the city of Cleveland has received a Tree City USA flag from the Arbor Day Foundation. Thirty-nine cities in Tennessee earned the distinction in 2013, including Norris, which leads the state with 35 years. Athens and Maryville tied for second place after being recognized for growing their tree canopies for 33 years. Of those 39 cities, only Cleveland can claim awards in all three categories. That accomplishment is a “tree trifecta,” a local term coined by 24th District State Rep. Kevin Brooks and Shade Tree Board Chairwoman Jan Cheek.
Cleveland Utilities has earned recognition for 14 years and the Cleveland State earned its fourth flag. The 2013 list for campuses is not available, but in 2012, Bryan College in Dayton was the only other college in the state recognized as a Tree Campus USA.
Shade Tree Board members and city officials celebrated the accomplishments Tuesday morning in the municipal courtroom in the police service center. Rain forced the event indoors instead of the corner of Central Avenue and Broad Street.
Cleveland Urban Forester Dan Hartman said in brief opening remarks that unfurling the Tree City USA flag for the 22nd time is a great accomplishment for the city. “It shows the desire and the ability to keep the aesthetics of the city — and the environment. Without trees we would be in trouble,” he said.
Mr. Hartman thanked the Cleveland City Council, Mayor Tom Rowland and Shade Tree Board members for their active support. “It’s a huge advantage for me to have that kind of support — and my staff too. The guys really get out and do it. They know what they’re doing and work real hard. They have planted 158 trees of about 20 different varieties this spring,” he said.
Mayor Rowland said the requirements for earning the award include establishing a shade board, passing a proclamation and having a ceremony. “We also have to spend a minimum of $2 per capita on our urban forest and we’ve done that,” the mayor said. “We get many comments from visitors about the trees that are so important to the environment and keeping our air clean and the beauty as well.”
The Tree City USA flag will again be presented to Allan Jones, who will fly it above the Craigmiles Building. “That’s the perfect place to fly the flag, right in the center of our downtown in the center of our city,” he said.
Shade Tree Board Vice President Jo Benjamin said the city becomes more beautiful as more trees are added to the canopy. Board member Amy Banks grew up in a tree-loving family. “We had hackberries in our backyard. They are undesirable, but we loved them and the robins loved them and for some reason, my whole family just always understood the importance of trees,” she said.