Vicksburg Council creates tree committee

By Jef Rietsma

Spurred in part by the loss of trees due to the downtown infrastructure project, Vicksburg village council members approved appointments to a newly formed advisory Tree Committee.

They appointed the following at a July 19 meeting: Council member Gail Reisterer; Vicksburg schoolteacher Kelly Christiansen, retired peace officer and former forester Steve Lange and business owner and former council member Mike Wunderlin.

Village Manager Jim Mallery said committee members will answer to village President Tim Frisbie. Mallery said the committee will field resident concerns and wishes related to tree replacement, and best practices and recommendations for proper tree maintenance.

Frisbie offered a few comments about each committee member:

“Mike is an active Rotary member … he’s seen a lot of the good times and a lot of the bad times in this community, but he ultimately has a passion that just can’t be described. He’s got a lot of great ideas.”

“Steve is a retired Portage peace officer. He was a forester out in California, he knows trees pretty well and we were very fortunate to find him.”

“Kelly teaches in the Vicksburg school system and, in the past, has led the Vicksburg Outdoor Center working with early American plants and trees.”

“Gail Reisterer has a love for Vicksburg … a great organizer, a great planner and has a great vision, so I thought she was a good pick for the group.”

Frisbie said there was debate about adding a fifth member but for now, a four-person committee will suffice, he said.

“They’re developing a plan and a strategy to establish a look of the 1800s to 1900s here,” he said. “Some of the areas where you drive around, we have these beautiful, stately trees. We’ve lost a lot of them in the last 10 to 20 years and we’ve never replaced them.”

Frisbie said Indiana Michigan Power has indicated potential funding is available to help with the purchase and planting of new trees. He said the energy company has literature and resources to guide the village when it’s at a point to re-plant new trees downtown and elsewhere to replace what was removed before the current construction project.

“They can help with (identifying) proper trees under wires, what’s natural to the area, there are some thoughts about considering certain parts of the village … maybe a spruce tree section, maybe a maple tree section, maybe an oak tree section,” he said. “But (the committee) is tasked with looking at it, giving us some recommendations, seeing what funding is available and just helping us with the general outlook in the community.”

Frisbie said the village had a tree committee more than 25 years ago. He said future generations will benefit from the foresight of reviving the group.

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