Norris: 40 years as a Tree City

Rocky Top celebrates its second year

  • Norris leadership came to receive a plaque from the state in honor of the 40th year as a Tree City USA member, including founding member Lucy Scanlon, right, and former Norris Mayor Monte Harold, third from right. - Crystal Huskey

  • Phoenix Huskey, left, and Liam Pirkle, right, led the flag ceremony at Norris Elementary last Friday for the Arbor Day celebration. - Crystal Huskey

  • Rocky Top leadership celebrated their second year as a Tree City USA member. From left: Robert Griffith, Denise Casteel, Michael Foster, Tim Sharp, Diane Warwick, Tim Hatmaker and David Byrge. - Crystal Huskey

Forty years ago, Boy Scouts Dean Smiley and Lynn Keck posed for the local Norris newspaper as they held a flag naming Norris the first Tree City USA in Tennessee.

Last Friday, cub scouts Phoenix Huskey and Liam Pirkle led a flag ceremony in honor of the anniversary of that day.

Two original members of the Norris Tree Commission, Lucy Scanlon and former Norris Mayor Monte Harold, were present for the celebration at Norris Elementary. Harold credits Scanlon for doing all the legwork on making Norris a Tree City.

Tree City USA is a nationwide movement that provides the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. Cities have to meet four standards to participate: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.

“Lucy was really the ringleader,” said Harold. “She made it known to us at the city office, and the city manager at that time did all the paperwork and submitted that.”

There isn’t a good record of all the members of the civic improvement committees, which included the tree commission, but a group of residents started planting trees around town. They set up the memorial tree program, which allows people to plant a tree in someone’s honor or memory, and when the Tree City USA program was launched in 1976, the group wanted Norris to be a part of that.

The Tennessee Division of Forestry’s Diane Warwick presented Norris Tree Commission members, both current and former, with a flag in honor of their 40th anniversary.

The first Norris Arbor Day ceremony was held on March 7, 1980. Neighboring city Rocky Top celebrated its first one just last year, with the support of the City of Norris.

Warwick was also present in Rocky Top on Friday, which held an Arbor Day ceremony a few hours before Norris did. Tree Commission member Tim Hatmaker made the presentation in front of the North Anderson County Boys and Girls Club.

Each student received a flowering dogwood, just like they did when they had their inaugural Arbor Day celebration at City Hall last year.

“We thank you for taking trees seriously, and taking Arbor Day seriously,” Hatmaker told students and city officials at Rocky Top City Hall. “We live in a beautiful area that God has blessed us to be in, and we need to take care of our environment.”

He thanked councilwoman Denise Casteel and fellow tree commission members David Byrge and Robert Griffith for their work in making the day possible. He also expressed thanks to the City of Norris for the support and guidance.

“I consider us in the infancy of our program, and they’re the major league version of Tree City,” he said.

He said he would like Rocky Top to have a memorial tree program like Norris, and gave the City of Norris a check for $100 for its program.