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by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: NANCY TOWNSLEY - Cyclists and others conduct a tree blessing at Greenville City Park, part of the opening ceremonies of a Tour des Trees, which took riders on a 585-mile bike trip through Oregon.On a brilliant Sunday morning in Banks, an enthusiastic crowd ballyhooed bark, bicyclists and beautification.


They also talked education — about trees, that is.

Gathered at Greenville City Park to dedicate a new educational arbor were Banks mayor John Kinsky, city manager Jim Hough, city councilor Christy Greagor and park management committee chair Rodney Jacobs.

“We are just tickled about this whole thing,” said Hough, who’s due to retire later this month. “It’s a great addition to Banks.”

Also present to kick off the 2012 STIHL Tour des Trees, a bicycling fundraiser for the Illinois-based Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund, were various dignitaries from TREE and the International Society of Arboriculture, which, not coincidentally, was holding its annual conference in downtown Portland.

Commitment to the community

“Your trees are absolutely wonderful,” the TREE Fund’s Mary DiCarlo told Tom Epler Jr., whose family business, EF Nursery of Forest Grove, donated 20 trees of different varieties, including conifers, crabapples and birches, for planting in Greenville Park.

The leafy specimens stand near descriptive plaques in an educational arbor Kinsky, Hough and others claim will teach children and adults about trees for years to come.

“This is the sixth year we’ve been a Tree City USA, and this event furthers a commitment we’ve made to the community,” Kinsky told the group of about 150, including 113 cyclists from around the U.S. and Canada. “Having an arbor like this is a humble beginning, but 20 years from now this will be a stunning place.”

Employees from the city of Banks and the city of Cornelius joined forces to complete the tree plantings over a three-day period, said Tom Tuski, Banks public works director.

Banks library director Denise Holmes accepted several dozen copies of “I Can Name 50 Trees,” a Cat in the Hat Learning Library book by Bonnie Wirth and Aristedes Ruiz, donated by the TREE Fund.

‘Give trees a chance’

A representative from Virginia-based STIHL donated a leaf blower to the city. After that, Toronto-based arborist and park supervisor Warren Hoselton donned a white lab coat, a crazy wig, and a new persona, Professor Elwood Pricklethorn, to lead a “blessing of the trees” activity for onlookers.

They waved their arms over their heads and chanted, “All we are saying is give trees a chance.”

Around 9 a.m., when the cyclists finally lined up to roll toward the Banks-Vernonia Trail and their Saturday evening destination, Seaside, another STIHL employee cut the starting ribbon with a chainsaw.

Jeff Picher, of Branchville, N.J., was doing his fourth Tour des Trees.

“This is the hardest working vacation you’ve ever had,” said Picher, who added that many of the tour participants are connected in some way to the arboriculture industry.

“We do it to get away from the stress of the business and to raise money for a good cause, but we have a lot of fun, too,” Picher noted. “It’s a great way to see the country — you take all these small back roads, and it’s just beautiful.

“The exercise is great, too.”

Besides arborists, the tour attracted a massage therapist, a yoga instructor, a Ph.D. student in mathematics and an accountant.

After a stop on the Oregon coast, this year’s tour was headed to Grand Ronde, Wilsonville, Government Camp and Hood River before wrapping up in Portland. The fundraising goal is $550,000, with each cyclist raising a minimum of $3,500.

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