Planted trees honor locals for Arbor Day

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

COVINGTON -- Three mighty oaks whose community influence continues to bear fruit were remembered Friday during the Arbor Day celebration hosted by the city of Covington, Newton County and the Covington Tree Preservation Board at Turner Lake Complex.

Swamp Chestnut Oak trees have been planted at Turner Lake in memory of Eddie Phillips, Carl Smith and Otis Spillers, and on Friday their families received plaques and kind words from those who new them best.

"We have physically lost them but the real honor for a person on this Earth is when they live on afterwards. I don't think we will ever lose them completely," said Dick Schulz, who owns The Oaks, the golf course where best pals Smith and Spillers played golf.

John Howard remembered his friend Phillips as a hard worker who was dedicated to his family.

"He endured hard times but he conquered that. He became a man who stood tall and became strong for his family. The oak tree we are dedicating today may go through hard times, too, before it becomes strong," Howard said.

Covington Mayor Kim Carter and Newton County Chairman Kathy Morgan both emphasized how the planting of the trees will ensure the men's legacy will live on for generations.

All were residents who exemplified good stewardship and protected county resources, Morgan said. "These trees will benefit air quality, offer shade and are an amazing renewable resource," Morgan said.

Also honored Friday were Connie Waller, former director of Keep Covington-Newton Beautiful, and Greg Heid, former director of the Newton County Library. Trees have been planted in their honor at the library.

"This girl does not know nights and weekends. It will be done, whatever the job is," said KCNB volunteer Lee Aldridge, who lauded Waller's beautification and conservation efforts, work to reduce litter and promote recycling and teach children about being good environmental stewards.

Interim Newton County Library Director Bob Halcums spoke on behalf of Heid, who now lives in Iowa. Heid helped expand library services and the Covington branch was award-winning under his leadership. Via email, he asked Halcums to be sure to tell everyone "the staff made everything possible."

Also at the event, Newton Medical Center was honored by the Covington Tree Preservation Board with the Tree Steward Award for maintaining and preserving trees. Snapping Shoals EMC received the Tree Line USA Award for the second consecutive year. The award recognizes public and private utilities that demonstrate practices that protect and enhance urban forests and is awarded through the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Finally, the city of Covington was recognized as a Tree City USA for the 19th year. To achieve Tree City USA status, a city must have a tree board or department and a tree care ordinance; a community forestry program with a budget of at least $2 per capita; and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.