Elgin Lions plant decorative trees on Division Street

By Trish Yerges, Observer Correspondent November 23, 2012 12:46 pm

Lions Bob Wiles Sr., President Greg Chamberlin and tree project leader Scott Abernethy planted six flowering trees along Division Street in Elgin  Wednesday, including a Pink Flair cherry tree that will put forth pink blossoms this spring. The project was supported by the Elgin Lions, local merchants and citizen donors. TRISH YERGES photo
Lions Bob Wiles Sr., President Greg Chamberlin and tree project leader Scott Abernethy planted six flowering trees along Division Street in Elgin Wednesday, including a Pink Flair cherry tree that will put forth pink blossoms this spring. The project was supported by the Elgin Lions, local merchants and citizen donors. TRISH YERGES photo

Members of the Elgin Lions club planted six decorative trees along Division Street Wednesday morning, replacing others that had died since the 2008 Highway 204 modernization project was completed.

Project leader Scott Abernethy and fellow Lions Bob Wiles Sr., Richard Roth, and Lions 2013 president Greg Chamberlin made a quick job of the tree planting.  They removed the old, gravelly dirt and replaced it with better quality soil and fertilizer.  

Wiles said they will put down some protective ground cover like bark to protect the tree roots and keep moisture in. 

“The trees were an element in the original highway project,” said Lion Joe Garlitz, who was then the city administrator/recorder. “The project included street base, water, inspection and replacement of sewer lines as needed; also sidewalks, electrical conduit for street lights and tree plantings.”

All of the work was contracted by the Oregon Department of Transportation, except for the actual poles, lights and wiring.  Later the city won a grant for about $50,000 which it used to purchase the poles and lamps and pay a local electrician to wire and install them.   The finished project was stunning at night, illuminating Division Street like a landing strip.  

The original trees were planted before the city signed off on the ODOT project, said Garlitz.  In 2008 the city took on the responsibility of watering them.   Not all the trees survived, however, and so the Lions took on the project of replacing the ones that were dead, badly disformed or somehow broken.

Abernethy did the purchasing research with the professional advice of Teresa Gustafson, tree care educator with the La Grande Urban Forestry Division program.  He bought the trees and transported them to Elgin on his trailer.

“We chose trees that are all drought tolerant and disease resistant,” said Abernethy.  “They are meant for planting in two by two holes.  We have a good mix of flowering trees.  Some of them are flowering cherry trees with pink blossoms; others will have white blossoms.”

The Lions had $240 to put toward the project initially, and with the fundraising efforts of Bob Wiles Sr., Kay Durham and Abernethy, they raised another $285 for a total of $525 for the project. 

“Kay went to all the merchants in town and received numerous small donations from each of them,” said Abernethy.  “It all adds up though, and we had enough to do it.”

Abernethy will keep a watchful eye on the six new trees to make sure they get enough water, especially in the first year of their growth there.  Some of the other trees may need replacing, too, but Abernethy said that determination will be made in the future.  For now, residents will enjoy Division Street outlined with pink and white spring blossoming trees.