By Allison Collins
SIDNEY – Despite overcast skies last Friday, Sidney celebrated its 22nd annual Tree City USA designation with the largest-ever Arbor Day turnout.
The event, hosted by Sidney’s Shade Tree Commission, featured presentations by commission chair Lorrie Roach, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation forester Scott Moxham and Sidney Mayor Andy Matviak, along with entertainment and artwork by Sidney Elementary School fifth-graders. Following tradition, the ceremony closed with a tree-planting ceremony by this year’s Arbor Day honoree, Jane Cole.
Extolling trees’ various roles in a community – cutting pollution, producing oxygen, muffling sound and beautifying – Roach said: “Arbor Day has become a very important holiday.”
Matviak echoed: “It’s very important and a great event for the community.”
Cole, whom Roach described as “a lover of gardens and gardening and … someone who appreciates and has a great interest in trees,” said she was “shocked” to learn she’d been selected as this year’s honoree.
“I never expected it,” she said.
Cole, who moved to Sidney from New Jersey in 1968, co-founded the village’s Hill and Valley Garden Club, which recently commemorated its 20th anniversary. She also served as a longtime Girl Scout troop leader, president of Sidney’s Parent Teacher Organization and past president of the Prospect Hill Cemetery Association.
Cole encouraged attendees to pursue volunteerism, saying: “There’s always somebody who can use your help.”