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May 24, 2012 4:58 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Earns 'Tree City' Award For 24th Time

May 30, 2012 11:53 AM

The Village of Westhampton Beach was presented with its 24th consecutive Tree City Growth Award during a ceremony held outside Village Hall on Thursday afternoon, an event that also marked Arbor Day in the municipality.

Students from Westhampton Beach High School’s Classmates United in Restoring the Environment, or CURE, club read poems about the environment and looked on as Village Trustee Leola “Sue” Farrell was presented with the village’s 24th annual award. Heather Amster, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s regional natural resource supervisor for Region 1, presented Ms. Farrell, the Village Board’s liaison to the Westhampton Beach Beautification Association, with a glass plaque and white sticker that featured the words “24 Years” in green letters.

The Tree City Growth Award is presented by the Arbor Day Foundation and recognizes environmental improvement and higher levels of tree care throughout the country, according to the Arbor Day website. To qualify for the award, Westhampton Beach had to meet several requirements, including agreeing to plant trees and maintaining them.

“How lucky you all are to live in a village where, year after year, they have a commitment to plant a tree in a public place,” Ms. Amster said. “We are here today, and the village is here today, for the commitment to plant a tree.”

At the ceremony, Mayor Conrad Teller read the village’s “Arbor Day Proclamation,” which states that trees are a “source of joy and spiritual renewal.” It also urges all residents of the village to protect local trees and woodland areas, and to plant trees whenever possible.

Earlier, employees with the village’s Department of Public Works planted a 12-foot-tall “purple fountain” weeping beech tree at Mortimer Park, a triangular-shaped park that sits where three streets—Griffing Avenue, and Brook and Aspatuck roads—meet.

During the ceremony, Jok Kommer, a marine and environmental sciences teacher at the high school and the advisor of CURE, expressed his gratitude to the village for taking this cause so seriously. He also pointed out that trees are more than just plants.

“This commitment goes way beyond one symbolic act on one day—it is endemic to this village,” Mr. Kommer said. “When you plant a tree, you become a part of its life and it becomes a part of yours.”

Club members were also on hand to share poetry and reflect on what Arbor Day means to them.

“Today we are celebrating an emotional and spiritual connection with our environment,” said CURE President Olivia Percoco, a junior at Westhampton Beach High School. “When you are touching dirt there is a spiritual connection.”

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“When you are touching dirt there is a spiritual connection.

Is she kidding?
By ba (50), speonk on May 25, 12 8:56 AM
Doesn't sound like a joke to me...maybe you don't have a spiritual connection to the Earth, but many of us do. The tree huggers were right to fight for the old growth forest and I for one think it is beautiful for our children to feel connected to the environment.
By terriann1 (6), Southampton on May 25, 12 9:09 AM
I get the whole "be nice to the environment" but lets not get carried away. Its dirt for cripes sakes. If you feel a connection with that you better get out a little more. The world has a few things better to offer.
By ba (50), speonk on May 25, 12 11:29 AM