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February 24, 2012

‘For the future’

County residents flock to post-tornado tree giveaway

CULLMAN — Frank Laughton lost so many trees around his Hanceville home on April 27, 2011, he couldn’t even begin to count them. The tornadoes that struck the county last year damaged and uprooted thousands of trees, leaving scars that will last decades.

“We have about 10 acres out there, and we had a lot of them go down,” Laughton said Thursday morning at Festhalle Market Platz.

It’s obviously going to take a while, but he took the first step toward at least getting some of them back Thursday.

Laughton was among several hundred Cullman County residents to come out for a National Arbor Day tree giveaway, which was scheduled to run until 2 p.m., but ran out of stock in the late morning.

“They were lined up down the block early this morning,” Cullman County Soil and Water Conservation Director Tim Scott said. “It was just a great turnout.”

The program, sponsored by the Alabama Forestry Commission, provided approximately 3,000 trees to county residents as part of a post-storm rebuilding effort.

“The trouble is that, when these do grow up, we won’t be around,” Laughton’s wife Jackie said. “But, it’s not for us. It’s for the future.”

Vinemont resident Todd Adkinson didn’t lose any trees to the tornadic winds, but was inspired by the giveaway to add a few to his yard.

“It’s a great thing,” he said. “Any time you can get people to plant trees it’s a positive.”

In honor of the event, which coincided with Arbor Day, the city also hosted a Tree City dedication service at Cullman city hall. The city has been named a Tree City USA community for participating in the program for the past 24 years.

Cullman Mayor Max Townson said he hopes the saplings provided Thursday can be the first step to restoring the county’s natural aesthetic.

“Last year we had a devastating storm,” he said. “It’s up to us to replant these trees so future generations can have them.”

Jason Dockery, with the Alabama Forestry Commission, praised the community’s commitment to forestry — especially in the wake of the April storms.

“It’s important to the people of Cullman and this shows they care,” he said.

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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