Columbia County officials honored county leaders and Arbor Day with a tree planting ceremony at Riverside Park on Friday.
Chinese elm trees were planted at the Evans park next to Riverside Elementary School in the name of four deceased and one still living county residents who have made positive impacts in the community.
The Columbia County Commission chose to honor former county Extension Service Director Bill Tye, late commissioner Dillard Watkins and one-time county division head Nick Crawford. The Martinez-Evans Rotary, a co-sponsor of the Arbor Day event, planted trees on behalf of the late Rotary President Frank Sprouse and for longtime Rotarian David Roper.
"Bill Tye was a man who loved working in this county and with its children," said Wendell Stubbs, who replaced Tye as extension service director. "It's been a pleasure to follow in his footsteps."
Star Crawford attended the ceremony in her late husband's stead with their bulldog Gus.
"This would have made him really happy," she said. "He always loved this county and its people."
Sprouse's widow, Mary Lou Sprouse, also attended the service in honor of her husband.
"Frank knew all of these people being honored here today," she said. "I can't help but feel that all of them are looking down on us, and (Frank is) in good company."
Arbor Day was founded in 1872 when 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska. Today, communities across the nation celebrate Arbor Day with tree planting ceremonies and conservation events.
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