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Arbor Day in Camden honors Polk, Boy Scouts

Posted: December 3, 2010 4:23 p.m.
Updated: December 6, 2010 5:00 a.m.
Ashley Ford/C-I

A tree was planted following the ceremony in recognition of X. Willard Polk (fifth from left) and Kershaw County Eagle Scouts who are pictured with members of the Camden Parks and Streets Commission and Camden Mayor Jeffrey Graham (far right).

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A great honor.

That’s what newly-elected Camden City Councilman X. Willard Polk said was about a tree being planted in his honor in Camden.

Polk, along with four young members of the Kershaw County Eagle Scouts, were recognized Friday afternoon during an Arbor Day celebration held in Greenspace Park. Greenspace Park was created behind the Camden Archives and Museum on Laurens Street after the city of Camden purchased the land across from the old Camden Middle School from the Kershaw County School District.

The celebration was sponsored by the city and Camden Parks and Streets Commission.

“Arbor Day started with one man and a vision. One hundred thirty-eight years ago, Nebraska adopted Arbor Day as a holiday. Now it’s recognized in all 50 states and in U.S. territories. It was such a simple idea that has taken root and is a wonderful and truly American holiday,” Camden Urban Forester Liz Gilland said Friday afternoon. “A lot of our holidays look towards the past, but Arbor Day looks towards the future. It just goes to show that we each can make our own positive impact.”

Gilland also said Polk was the perfect person to be recognized during the celebration.

Polk, who served on the parks and streets commission for seven years, was instrumental in developing needs assessments for the city’s parks, securing and implementing several park beautification and improvement grants and has worked in conjunction with the Camden Tree Foundation on tree plantings.

“Actually, the parks and streets commission already had him in mind. And when I came, I already had an inkling of the impact that he had locally,” Gilland said about the decision to recognize Polk. “So really, it was kind of a no-brainer.”

And after looking back at the work that four young county Eagle Scouts provided the city of Camden parks, Gilland said that it was important that they be recognized during the celebration as well. Scouts recognized included Johnny Ray Ham of Troop 38, Zill Shah of Troop 303, and Ty Miller and Eric Shumway of Troop 901.

Scoutmasters Greg Simonson, Mike Chesley and Richard Guffy were also recognized for guiding the young scouts.

“I don’t know if a lot of people know that 2010 is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Boy Scouts of America,” Gilland said, adding that Polk has also coordinated many projects with the Eagle Scouts. “And because of their involvement with the parks and in the community, and with their anniversary, we thought that it would be great to honor those scouts.”

During the ceremony, cadets from Camden Military Academy acted as the color guard while Camden Elementary School students sang songs and read poetry.

After the celebration, Polk said he was humbled by the decision to have a tree planted in his honor.

“It was a great honor, and just unexpected. Every Arbor Day, we’ve always recognized someone. And I feel that it was very fitting that this was done in conjunction with the Eagle Scouts,” Polk said, as several program attendees congratulated him. “I was just humbled.”

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