Gonzales Garden Club dedicates tree to Gonzales Police Department

Patti Mouton Gonzales Garden Club Publicity Chairman
The Gonzales Garden Club honors the Gonzales Police Department with the planting of this young oak tree in front of the police station at the corner of Cornerview and S. Francois Streets on Arbor Day.

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now. (Chinese Proverb)

National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, but Louisiana observes this holiday in January because it is our best tree-planting time. So every year since 1962, the Gonzales Garden Club has planted a tree on the third Friday of January to beautify the city. All the trees have been planted at public entities. In the early years, each Arbor Day tree was dedicated to an outstanding local citizen who had passed away, and a memorial plaque was placed at its base. Today’s details of the club’s Arbor Day traditions have changed slightly, but the spirit of inspiring the community to plant, nurture and celebrate trees remains steadfast.

On January 16, 2015, a dozen members of the Gonzales Garden Club and a few grandchildren went down to the new Gonzales Police Department to dedicate a newly planted Live Oak in celebration of Arbor Day. Star gardener duo Harlon and Janis Poche had bought the tree from a local nursery and settled it into the ground in front of the station.

Mayor Barney Arceneaux, Police Chief Sherman Jackson, and some of his enforcement staff joined the garden club members for a simple yet meaningful dedication ceremony. Barbara McCormick gave an invocation in appreciation of trees. Cathy Venable highlighted the Live Oak Society’s reverence for these trees within Louisiana and other southern states. Loretta Ramirez asked the mayor and the police chief to accept the tree as a gift from the community. Mable Savoy expressly thanked the mayor and the chief for their successful efforts to ensure public safety.

Mayor Arceneaux responded that he “appreciates what the club continues to do to beautify the city.” Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson was clearly touched by club’s gesture. He remarked, “I am so appreciative that a group would give back to their law enforcement officers. I put a lot on the line becoming a police officer, and I put a lot on the line running for Chief. I see this tree as a message of thanks and a symbol of Gonzales growing together. It makes me feel like my work is worthwhile.”

As tradition would have it, the ceremony was closed with the reading of “An Old Oak Tree Reminisces”, a poem written by Willie Mae Montgomery, an esteemed member of the Gonzales Garden Club from 1975 until 2005. Member Kat Hightower read it to the group.

“The planting of a tree, especially one of the long-living hardwood trees, is a gift which you can make to posterity at almost no cost and with almost no trouble, and if the tree takes root, it will far outlive the visible effect of any of your other actions, good or evil.” (George Orwell) "Who knows? Maybe one day, this tree will prevent a crime.” (Chief Sherman Jackson) Happy Arbor Day, Ascension.