Story by Lon Tytell
The Warwick Valley Gardeners’ and the Village of Warwick celebrated a Sesquicentennial Arbor Day on Fri., Apr. 28 at Stanley-Deming Park, honoring Village Shade Tree Commissioner Roger Metzger for his years of service. Metzger has been involved in the commission since 1966 and has served as its Commissioner for over 40 years. The purpose of the commission is to encourage the planting of trees.
Pat Reinhardt, representing the Warwick Valley Gardeners’ served as Master of Ceremonies and spoke of the origin of Arbor Day which was started by J. Sterling Morton who encouraged the planting of trees in Nebraska which would provide timber for the houses and produce fruit. Reinhardt also praised the Village Department of Public Works, who set up chairs, dug the hole for the Sesquicentennial Sugar Maple tree to honor Roger Metzger, and placed the tree in the ground.
Reinhardt introduced the Middle School Wire Choir and the Warwick High School Chamber Strings who played, “America the Beautiful” and other musical selections throughout the ceremony. Several of the instruments used were made of wood.
Reinhardt then introduced Sarah Werner, a fifth grade student from the Warwick Middle School, the winner of New York State Arbor Day Poster Contest.
“This year the theme was ‘Defend New York’s Forests’ so I immediately thought of using a shield to protect the forest from forest fire and provide shelter for animals. I am very honored to share this winning poster with the Warwick Valley community,” said Werner.
Craig Wadeson, co-owner of Wadeson Home Center, recalled receiving a tree as a kindergarten student on Arbor Day. Wadeson, who has distributed trees for many years, said he would be handing out 400 Norway Spruce Trees to children representing Park Avenue School, Sanfordville Elementary School, and St. Stephens/St. Edwards School at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Town Historian Dr. Richard Hull reminded the youngsters that trees need water. Hull then spoke of the history of tree planting in the Village of Warwick, the naming of streets after the name of trees, and the arboretum at the Warwick Cemetery.
“The Village of Warwick established one of the earliest Shade Tree Commissions in New York State,” said Dr. Hull.
Geoffrey Howard also spoke and described the tree found in Lewis Woodlands dated 1767 which contains pins indicating important dates in local, national and world history.
Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton read a proclamation declaring Fri., Apr. 28, 2017 as Roger Metzger Day. He pointed out that the Village of Warwick has been designated Tree City USA for 33 years and the Town of Warwick has been designated Tree City USA for two years.
Village Mayor Michael Newhard spoke about Metzger’s involvement with the Village Planning Board, his service as a Village Trustee, and his joy at meeting the children who participated each Arbor Day during his involvement in the Village Shade Tree Commission.
Mayor Newhard was accompanied by Kid Mayor Danny Alaquzada Madero. Newhard also pointed out that there are plans to plant more trees on the same hill as the newly planted Sugar Maple Tree. The path leading up to the arboretum will be handicapped accessible.
County Legislator Barry Cheney presented Metzger with a proclamation from the County. Rae Webster, Metzer’s friend spoke of Metzger’s involvement with Meals on Wheels. Robert Scheuermann, Jr., the newly appointed Shade Tree Commissioner praised Metzger’s work as Commissioner. Mayor Newhard then presented Metzger with a plaque in the shape of tree thanking Metzger for his years of service.
Student representatives from each of the schools participating in this year’s Arbor Day celebration joined Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton and Mayor Newhard in shoveling dirt in the hole to cover the Sugar Maple tree honoring Metzger.