COVINGTON -- In honor of their 100th anniversary, local Boy Scouts are giving the community a gift they hope will also last 100 years.
On Monday afternoon, scouts, troop leaders, their families and local officials gathered on the Square in downtown Covington to dedicate a tree to the community. Scouts made the symbolic gesture of turning the dirt for the tree, though the Willow Oak will not be planted until later, on the periphery of the Square.
Three other trees are also being planted in Newton and Rockdale counties: at Rockdale Medical Center, Oak Hill Elementary School and Academy Springs Park.
The Home Depot Foundation has donated 100 trees to the Boy Scouts of America Atlanta Area Council in celebration of the 100th anniversary.
For each tree planted, an additional tree will be donated to the Boy Scouts of America Centennial Forest to help replant the Flathead National Forest in Montana, damaged by recent fires.
"As a corps, Boy Scouts have practiced responsible environmental living and conservation of natural resources," said Bill Loeble, a Newton resident who serves on the Atlanta Area Council.
David Abercrombie, district executive for the local Yellow River District, said Boy Scouts are trained to camp, fish, hunt and do other outdoor activities without damaging the environment.
"One hundred years from now when we celebrate our 200th anniversary, we want this to be a greener and better place than it is now," Abercrombie said.
There are a total of 42 Boy Scout troops, Cub Scout packs, and Venture Crews in Newton and Rockdale, with 1,337 participants, according to Abercrombie.
"It's our honor and privilege to do anything to support the Boy Scouts of America," said Board of Commissioners Chairman Kathy Morgan, who along with Covington Mayor Kim Carter, read a proclamation formally recognizing 2010 as the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts.
Carter said the Boy Scouts "teach our young future leaders the right values and work ethics."
According to the proclamation, Boy Scouts of America was incorporated Feb. 10, 1910, and chartered by Congress in 1916 as an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, develop personal fitness and prepare young people to make moral and ethical choices.
"... the 100th anniversary trees are one way that the Boy Scouts of America celebration can leave behind a living legacy that will continue for generations to come," the proclamation states.