Couple gives money to fortify Oneida’s trees

Linda Bell/GateHouse News Service

Oneida area residents will have a unique opportunity to help with tree planting in the city this month.

The tree planting project was jump-started with a $1,000 donation from Eldon and Kathryn McKie to plant trees in 20th Century Park in memory of Eldon’s grandmothers, Susan McKie and Retta Jane Hannam. The McKies, Oneida natives, have lived in the St. Louis area for 50 years.

The city has received a grant from Trees Forever, a nonprofit organization with corporate offices in Marion, Iowa, to expand the tree planting beyond the park, to Center Street and other selected areas on city property.

With assistance from the U.S. Forest Service, Trees Forever is coordinating an educational outreach program to assist communities in eastern Iowa and western Illinois in preparation for the arrival of the emerald ash borer, which damages and destroys ash trees. A variety of trees that are native to the area will be planted in an effort to have hardy trees that are the least susceptible to insect.

Due to Trees Forever’s goal of involving local residents in positive action to improve their communities and farms, the grant received by the city requires a donation of manpower and some tools for the project and two educational sessions. Volunteers of all ages, including students, community leaders, elected officials, church and school organizations and clubs are encouraged to participate.

The first opportunity for participation will be a session on the care and maintenance of new trees at 10 a.m. May 19 in the Lawson Community Building, 114 E. Holmes St., and the public is encouraged to attend the approximately one hour session.

The second opportunity will be May 26 when volunteers should meet at 20th Century Park by the Veterans Memorial at the corner of Center and Depot Streets at 9 a.m. for tree planting. Those with shovels are asked to bring them. Tree planting will last about two hours.

For more information, call Mike Kalb, chairman, at (309) 438-6584.