This week, the City of Monett was presented with the 2010 Gold Leaf Award for Outstanding Landscaping and Beautification from the International Society of Arboriculture.
Russ Balmas, the city's parks supervisor, and Skip Mourglia, USDA NRCS forester, accepted the award on behalf of the city. Jon Skinner, urban forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation, presented the award during Tuesday morning's council meeting.
Skinner praised the efforts the city has undertaken to replace damaged trees in city parks and other public areas over the past several years. He also gave credit to Mourglia, who volunteered to work with the city to obtain grants that helped pay for several tree removal and replanting efforts, and Balmas, who oversees the city's parks.
"The city staff continues to do an excellent job of maintaining and replacing trees," said Skinner.
Mourglia also had kind words to say about the city parks crew.
"If Russ (Balmas) didn't have the attitude he has, none of this would have happened," said Mourglia. "City employees have made a 180-degree turnaround in how they take care of trees. I have to give credit to Russ and his staff."
In particular, Skinner cited several projects that the city has completed over the past three years that helped them earn the award.
In 2007, the city was awarded a TRIM grant that allowed for the removal of a large number of hazardous trees from the South Park that had been damaged in the 2007 ice storm. The removal was followed by the planting of over 325 trees in both the North Park and South Park. The planting was made possible by a $5,000 grant provided to the Monett community by Brenda Henry. City crews received help with the plantings from Boys Scouts and the Monett Science Olympiads.
In April of 2008, 50 more trees were planted in South Park with the assistance from Jack Henry and Associates volunteers. The effort was hailed as Monett's first Arbor Day tree planting.
Over the years, the city has also sent several of its employees to training opportunities offered by MDC urban foresters. It is these efforts that Skinner said led to Monett's selection as a Gold Leaf Award winner.