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 North Manchester, Indiana

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North Manchester

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Source: NMHS Newsletter Aug 1997

North Manchester, Indiana
Philip A. Orpurt

The Tree City USA award is a National recognition program which is co-sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation, the Association of State Foresters, the US League of Cities, and the Conference of Mayors.
A community must meet four requirements to become a Tree City USA. The requirements are:

l. A TREE BOARD or Department -
This group or individual must be legally defined by ordinance as the body responsible for the management of public trees.
This ordinance addresses care of trees on public property. It contains information on the selection, planting, maintenance, removal and pruning of these trees.
3. AN ANNUAL TREE BUDGET of $2 per Capita -
These dollars can come from any money spent on trees by any department within the community. Donations of in-kind labor can be part of the tree budget.
By proclamation and under the guidance or sponsorship of the Town.

North Manchester had fulfilled these requirements for 1996. So, on April 2nd of this year I had the privilege of delivering this plaque in recognition of the award, to Don Rinearson, President of the Town Council, and the Town Council, then in session. Earlier that day while attending the "Tree City USA" Conference at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Chris Garber, our Town Manager, Brian Wagner, Director of Parks and Recreation, and I, as Chair of the North Manchester Tree Commission accepted the award from Burnell Fischer, State Forester, which was presented by the "First Lady of Indiana", Mrs. Judy O'Bannon. Also, as a part of the recognition packet, we were given two aluminum signs for display at the entrances to the Town, as well as a large blue flag with the "Tree City USA" logo.
The plaque says:
National Arbor Day Foundation
North Manchester, Indiana

How did North Manchester receive this recognition? There have been numerous events and activities which contributed to the effort to obtain the status of Tree City and many people became involved in one way or another.
In an article entitled, "New Initiative Group Gets Greenlight for Town Planning" published in the NEWS JOURNAL November 3, 1989, a group referred to as the "Forum Initiative Committee" called for a community effort at strategic planning and revitalization. From this call to action the Town Forum was established. A Steering Committee brought into operation eight task forces which were given the responsibility of looking into various aspects of community life. Among those suggestions receiving attention was that of a deteriorating tree canopy. More detailed information can be found in "Feedback from the Town Forum" September, 1989, Draft Version of the Strategic Planning Document for North Manchester, Indiana.
A "Tree Advisory Board" consisting of Dick Miller (chair) Ralph Delk, Wilson Lutz, Mick Welborn, Jim Gratz, Lester Binnie, Fran Gratz, Harvey Underwood, Jim Taylor and Phil Orpurt met a number of times during the spring and summer of 1989 to give consideration to the problems relating to the Town's tree canopy and the disposal of leaves. It was apparent to this group that one of the first things to be done was to plan a preliminary survey of the tree-lawn trees. During July and August 1989 this survey was carried out by a group of volunteers consisting of Dick Miller (chair) Harvey Underwood, Dale Flora, Lester Binnie, Bob Frantz, Dave Hicks, Wilson Lutz and Phil Orpurt.
That portion of the town surveyed included the blocks bordered on the North by College Avenue, the Eel River on the East and the South and Beckley Street on the West. A total of 2159 trees were recorded. Out of 41 kinds, nearly 87% were maples. Forty three percent of the trees were soft maples and of the 247 dead, dying or poor trees 97% were maples. Furthermore, many of the maples were more than 2 1/2 feet in diameter and were 80 years old or older. Another interesting finding was that there were 1185 spaces where once there had been trees, but where the missing trees had not been replaced.
This information, plus the input from other sources favoring the idea that the Town Council should take steps to improve the tree canopy, resulted in the establishment of the "North Manchester Tree Advisory Commission" with the adoption of an Ordinance on July 5, 1990. Thus, the first requirement for the acquisition of the "Tree City USA" award had been accomplished.
The Commission consists of five persons appointed by the Town Council. The initial members of the Commission were Town Manager, Jim Taylor, ex-officio, Gaye Eckert, Bernie Ferringer, Ralph Delk, and Phil Orpurt. Fran Gratz also served on the Commission as an advisor. Later, Eldon Stoops replaced Ralph Delk and Bernie Ferringer was replaced by Jeff Hire. Glen Hawkins has acted in an advisory capacity at various times. Phil Orpurt was elected to serve as chair and Gaye Eckert as the secretary. The present membership of the Tree Commission is Jeff Hire, Dave Doudt (secretary), Jabin Burnworth, Chris Garber (Town Manager), and Phil Orpurt (chair). Brian Wagner, Director of Parks and Recreation, serves in an advisory capacity. Although not officially a member of the Commission, the Town Clerk, Nancy Reed, has through her experience and knowledge, made numerous contributions to whatever accomplishments are to be noted for the North Manchester Tree Program.
In 1992 a more detailed survey of the tree-lawn trees of the entire town provided information which became incorporated into a map that showed the location of each tree, the kind of tree, the size of the tree, and the condition of the tree (dead or dying, poor, good or excellent). Individuals who participated in this more detailed survey were Dick and Mary Miller, Harvey Underwood, Ralph Delk, Glenn Hawkins, Dave Hicks, Deb Huston, Wilson Lutz, Bob Frantz and Phil Orpurt. Such information became very useful in developing overall plans for the restoration and maintenance of the tree canopy.
During this time the Tree Commission began preparing a "Tree Plan and Guidelines Manual of Recommended Arboricultural Specifications and Standards of Practice for the Town of North Manchester, Indiana" The manual contains, "standards and intructions for the planting, maintenance and removal of trees, shrubs, and other plants. Design concepts and objectives presented in this document represent the recommended practices for the Town of North Manchester. Citizens are urged to give consideration to, and, insofar as it is possible, to follow the proposed street tree design in tree planting for both public and private projects."
A description of the Proposal for the Long Range North Manchester Tree Program as envisioned by the Tree Commission was mailed to all town utility customers in the form of a poster. The proposal is on the reverse while the front depicts an artist's conception of the "PROMENADE' as a densely landscaped "loop" that runs along Main Street north along Market Street to College Avenue, east on College to Wayne Street and then south on Wayne to Main Street. The total distance is approximately two miles. While a proposal at the time that the poster was distributed, 500 shade and ornamental trees, of 16 varieties have since been planted along the "Promenade".
The Town of North Manchester was fortunate to secure three matching grants to help carry out the various projects in the tree program. They were:
l) An Urban Forest Assistance Fund grant of $10,000 (20,000) in February, 1991 for the purpose of:
a. Consultation design work by Eric R. Kohne and Associates.
b. Poster printing and mailing.
c. The preparation and printing of the "Tree Plan and Guide lines Manual".
2) An Urban Forest Assistance Fund grant of $2,750 ($5,500) in December, 1991 for the purpose of: Conducting a more detailed inventory of the tree-lawn trees of the Town and the printing of a map.
3) A Small Business Administration grant of $20,000 (43,950) in February, 1992 for the purpose of: Planting of the ornamental and shade trees along the "Promenade".
(The amount in parenthesis indicates the total amount with matching funds.)
The requirement of $2.00 per capita budget can include in-kind labor and materials, and individual donations such as those made to the Tree Fund of the Community Foundation of Wabash County. So the "Walrod Tree Fund" has been valuable to the overall tree program in Town. That fund was established by Janice Walrod in 1980 in memory of her husband. The first trees planted using money from the fund were planted in 1981. Since that time nearly 500 trees have been planted in tree lawns thanks to Mrs. Walrod. Not only did the trees help to improve the tree canopy in town, but the expenditure has been cited as a part of our "match" for the grants.
Arbor Day celebrations have been held in the Town since April 22, 1990 when a combination of Arbor Day - Earth Day took place at the Town Life Center. An oak tree was planted in the front tree lawn as a part of that event. In 1996 the Arbor Day which contributed to the "Tree City USA" recognition took place at the Manchester Elementary School. It was organized by teacher, Dave Doudt. Poems and a skit by students, remarks by the Principal, Bonnie S. Larson and by the Town Manager, Chris Garber, plus the presence of a delegation of Officials and Civic leaders from China highlighted the occasion. During the week including May 3rd (Arbor Day), 20 classes of students and their teachers planted 24 trees on the school campus to mark the occasion.
With the adoption of the Tree Ordinance in January of this year all four requirements for recognition as a "Tree City USA" had been fulfilled and North Manchester received the award in April, 1997. One word of caution and a challenge: it is essential that the Town continue to undertake similar kinds of projects and programs each year to maintain the status as a "Tree City USA".