Lt. Governor commends Urbana

By Melissa Silverberg

By Melissa Silverberg

Staff Writer

Lt. Governor Pat Quinn visited the City of Urbana Monday afternoon as a part of the city’s celebration of Earth Week. Quinn honors the city for its long-time dedication to the Tree City program over the past several decades.

“We are here on the eve of Earth day saluting the city of Urbana,” said Quinn. “We need to make every day Earth Day.”

Quinn, the Mayor of Urbana and other city representatives spoke on behalf of Urbana about its long past concerning the Tree City program and other environmental initiatives.

“We have people that really care about quality of life in Urbana,” said Laurel Prussing, Mayor of Urbana. “We were green before it became so widely accepted.”

Urbana was one of 16 charter cities in the Tree City program, which now encompasses thousands of communities, said Mike Brunk, Urbana city arborist.

Tree City USA has four main requirements, which includes spending $2 per capita on trees, establishing a tree board or having a city arborist, celebrating Arbor Day and having a tree ordinance. The tree ordinance guides the community on how to care for their trees, Brunk said.

The city of Urbana will be celebrating Arbor Day on Friday, Brunk said.

Urbana has 120 trees per linear mile of street, making it one of the most densely populated cities for trees in the country, Quinn said.

“Trees attract people, people attract tax dollars and tax dollars make a community work,” said Brunk. “So trees really help support the community.”

Aside from recognition for being involved in the Tree City program, Urbana also helps run the landscape recycling center for the city of Champaign, the city of Urbana and Champaign County, Brunk said.

“It’s important to recognize these achievements,” Quinn said.

He added that the state of Illinois was the first to have an environmental article in its constitution, meaning that every person had a duty and a right to a healthful environment, both now and in the future.

State government has been under some controversy of late due to news of a possible cut in funding that could lead to a loss of 450 jobs from the University’s Extension Program. Quinn also took the opportunity to speak out on the issue Monday afternoon.

“To cut funding in these programs would be the complete wrong way to go,” Quinn said. “Our number one strength is agriculture, Extension helps 2 million people a year.”

Quinn added that everyone in Springfield is united to making sure the money is released and invested in the programs.

“Otherwise its really a slap in the face to everyone in Illinois,” he said.