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County Courthouse new home to elm tree

According to a Chinese Proverb, the “best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is now.”

Friday morning was the “now” for folks with the Oxford Garden Club, the Oxford Tree Board and tree lovers from the community who gathered on the lawn of the Lafayette County Courthouse Friday morning to celebrate Arbor Day and plant a tree.

The young elm tree was planted at 10 a.m. by Fulgham’s Tree Preservation Service on the north side of the courthouse.

Londa Waller, president of the Oxford Garden Club, welcomed the about 40 people for attending the event under cloudy skies.

Lafayette County Board of Supervisors President Jeff Busby said he spoke to Mayor Pat Patterson before the event, who suggested hurring up with the ceremony to avoid the rain.

“He isn’t a country boy or he’d understand the best time to plant a tree is before the rain,” Busby joked with the crowd before thanking the two organizations for allowing this year’s Arbor Day tree to be planted at the courthouse.

“We will appreciate the beauty this tree will add to our downtown Square and the courthouse for many years,” he said.

The Lafayette County High ROTC presented the colors and Cadet Lt. Col. Josh Purviance sang the national anthem.

Arbor Day was founded in 1872. By the 1920s, each state had passed public laws that stipulated a certain day to be Arbor Day or Arbor and Bird Day observance. Today, National Arbor Day is celebrated every year on the last Friday in April.

Oxford Aldermen Jason Bailey spoke on behalf of the city and the mayor, who could not attend the event, thanking the tree organizations for their hard work in protecting Oxford’s tree canopy, and read a resolution from the Oxford Board of Aldermen declaring the city’s recognition of April 29 as Arbor Day.

John Arrechea, with the Lafayette County Forestry Association, presented awards to three Oxford Intermediate fifth-grade students for winning first, second and third place in the annual Arbor Day Poster Contest. The winners were: Dorothy Grace Daniels, first place; Ella Tosh, second place; and Shamiya Pace, third place.

The theme was “Trees are Terrific Inside and Outside.” Prizes included $25 for first place, $20 for second and $15 for third and a colored-pencil set from the Oxford Garden Club. The winning posters will be on display at Neilson’s Department Store.

Cowan Hunter from the Oxford Tree Board thanked the Oxford Building and Grounds Department for their help year-round help.

“They do our tree care and planting in the city and we’ve been busy this spring,” Hunter said. “We’ve been able to get a lot of nice trees in the ground. They work hard all year to keep our trees healthy.”