Tree planted in Lewisburg to honor Betty Cook on Arbor Day

Apr. 26—LEWISBURG — The Shade Tree Commission honored the late Betty Cook by planting a tree at her former residence on Arbor Day.

The annual tree planting on Friday occurred at 201 S. Market St., Lewisburg, with a native Willow Oak being placed outside the former property of Cook, who died June 3 at age 94. A noted historian, Cook was heavily involved in the community and was a founding member of the Union County Veterans 4th of July Celebration Committee and Slifer House Museum Board of Directors.

"She did more for Lewisburg than any other living person," said her cousin Jack Fisher. "She worked tirelessly to make Lewisburg a better place. She was always so humble, but she would have been honored to be recognized today."

The Lewisburg Shade Tree Commission is celebrating 39 consecutive years as a Tree City. Having a Tree City designation shows the continued community commitment to planting and preserving public trees. As a Tree City a municipality must meet the requirements of forming a tree board, administering the borough's tree ordinance, having an annual budget and annual observance of Arbor Day.

The historic building at 201 S. Market St. was built by William Cameron in 1844. In 1852, it became the borough's first bank: Lewisburg Dimes Savings.

When developers in 1959 wanted to tear the building down and build a gas station, Cook purchased the home and owned it until she died in 2023.

"She made this town a very, very special place," said Taylor Lightman, a member of the Shade Tree Commission.

The Willow Oak, supplied by Shaffer Landscapes Inc., of Middleburg, replaces a declining Callery Pear tree, an invasive species prone to breaking and falling, according to Lightman.

Will Oaks are known to be good street trees. It is the first street tree of its kind in Lewisburg, said Lightman.

Mayor Kendy Alvarez also read an official proclamation designating April 26 as Arbor Day.

"Trees can be a solution to combating climate change by reducing the erosion of our precious topsoil by wind and water, cutting heating and cooling costs, moderating the temperature, cleaning the air, producing life-giving oxygen and providing habitat for wildlife," Alvarez read. "Trees are a renewable resource giving us paper, wood for our homes, fuel for our fires and countless other wood products."

Trees increase property value, enhance the economic vitality of business areas and beautify the community, she read.

"Trees — wherever they are planted — are a source of joy and spiritual renewal," Alvarez read.

Alvarez was then joined by former Mayor Judy Wagner in placing a shovel full of dirt onto the base of the tree.

Lightman thanked Citizens Electric, which is part of the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree Line USA program, for their longtime monetary support of the tree canopy as well as the state Department of Natural Resources, the Lewisburg Tree Tenders, borough council and public works employees, Kathy Wendt and Bill Lowthert for administrative support and residents.

Lightman said the Shade Tree Commission and the Lewisburg Tree Tenders also planted 10 trees along Front Street last fall.

Following the planting, the Merrill Linn Conservancy hosted the Arbor Day Tree Walk in Downtown Lewisburg in Hufnagle Park, co-sponsored by the commission. Bucknell Biology professor and Certified Tree Expert Dr. Chris Martine led a discussion on trees in Lewisburg.