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Hinesville reaches milestone
City receives National Arbor Day Foundation's "Tree City USA" designation for 20th year
Jeff Stone, far left, stands with the Hinesville mayor and council behind an Arbor Day flag commemorating the city's 20th year in a row being designated a "Tree City USA" recipient. - photo by Sara Swida / Keep Liberty County Beautiful
Hinesville has undergone an explosion in commercial and residential construction in recent years, but the need to make space for new developments did not hinder the city from reaching a major milestone in its effort to remain green.
Forestry Commission Chief Ranger Jeff Stone announced during last week's city council meeting that for the 20th year in a row, the National Arbor Day Foundation has named Hinesville a "Tree City USA" designee.
"There are only nine other recognitions in Georgia that are older than the city of Hinesville," Stone said, beaming with excitement as he addressed the council for the official award presentation. "I was part of the first preparation for the paperwork when Hinesville was first certified and I'm proud to still be here to make this presentation."
Tree City USA is a tree planting and tree care program sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation that provides direction, technical assistance, public attention, and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities throughout the United States.
The Tree City USA designation allows a community to "present the kind of image that most citizens want to have for the place they live or conduct business" and recognize those "who work on behalf of better care of a community trees," according to the Arbor Foundation.
And to help Hinesville celebrate its 20th year as a designee, the foundation sent a box of goodies to the city, which Stone displayed during the council meeting.
The award package included fluorescent 20th year stickers that can be posted on the Tree City USA signs at the city's entry points, an Arbor Day flag and a trophy with the Roman numerals for 20 on the front.
There also were special prizes for Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas.
"And the reason it's important to be the mayor is because you get a lapel pin recognizes that you're a tree city USA," Stone said. "And on your 20th anniversary you get a cap recognizing you're a Tree City USA."
"It's a crowning achievement," Thomas joked as he looked at the baseball cap in the chief ranger's hand.
Thomas and city council members took a short break during the meeting to take photographs behind the huge Arbor Day flag with Stone and his staff and once back in his seat, the mayor reflected on the city's major accomplishment.
"It's a wonderful thing that the city can maintain this designation for 20 years," Thomas said.
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