Trees for Ringgold is providing free trees and the labor to plant them in the ground of any Ringgold resident or business that asks. There is a limit of one free tree per resident, but additional trees may be purchased at cost, if supplies are sufficient.
Orders for free trees such be placed before Oct. 1 if possible.
Order forms, or information about volunteering to help with planting, can be obtained from many downtown merchants, Gateway Bank or by calling Joy Thornton at 706-965-8148.
More information about the Trees for Ringgold project can be found here.
It might take a while, perhaps 20 years or more, but Ringgold's landscape will change for the better due to the Trees for Ringgold project.
While most of the buildings damaged or destroyed by a tornado in April have been or are in the process of being repaired or replaced, that is not the case for the hundreds of trees uprooted or shredded by that buzz saw-like whirlwind.
Individual properties might have lost a single tree or two, but the overall effect has altered the look of the city.
Trees for Ringgold was formed to help replace as many of those lost trees as possible.
"Our main focus is on planting trees for residences and businesses downtown and in the area worst hit by the storm, especially in the neighborhoods adjacent Ringgold High School," according to David Dunn and the Ringgold Phoenix group that formed Trees for Ringgold. "The obvious objective is to repair some of the damage done by the storm, but a secondary purpose is to bring the community together in a positive, constructive and healing way."
Volunteers with this community project, sponsored by Ringgold Downtown Partners and the Northwest Georgia Bank Foundation, have raised funds to purchase trees. Now it is time to prepare for planting.
"We need people to sign up so we know how many trees to order," said Raye Brooks, president of Ringgold Downtown Partners. "We will be getting seven-gallon trees - about six to seven feet tall - from Jim Webster at the Barn Nursery, as well as some hardwoods from Ken Pitts, a local landscaper."
Daniel Shepherd, Ringgold's marketing and Downtown Development Authority coordinator, said the group hopes to plant between 300 and 500 trees over a several day period during the last week of October.
To commemorate the six-month anniversary of the storm that scarred the city and to commence tree planting, a "Ringgold, Remembrance and Renewal" program will be held Thursday, Oct. 27 on the courthouse lawn.
Volunteers, citizens, marching bands and dignitaries will be on hand for the event which will culminate in the planting of a large hardwood on the lawn where the stump of a tree shattered by the storm now stands.
Trees for Ringgold organizers stress the free trees are not just for people who lost trees; this project is for anyone who would like to add to the city's tree canopy.
"We have a lot of volunteers who are giving time, effort and money to make this possible," Shepherd said. "People shouldn't feel bad about taking a tree. This is for the overall good of everybody."