The ash tree memorializing Mayor Bob Cabeen was victimized by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle. That tree has been removed but, as of this morning, has been replaced by a purple beech.
“I think it was planted in 1990,” says Public Works Director Larry Cox, referring to the previous tree. “There’s a stone associated with that and we’re going to move the stone and add another stone to it to signify the new tree.”
The new purple beech variety is on a list of recommendations to replace the trees affected by EAB. The beetles were discovered in Knox County in late 2012 when work was being completed on the Knox College campus.
Hundreds of trees are being affected in the immediate area, but the City of Galesburg has developed and reviewed plans that will be carried out over the course of several years to replenish the city’s forest.
Problems were first noticed by Larry Cabeen – who is the former Mayor’s son – during a visit to Galesburg to see his late mother. He says he noticed the tree had become weakened and was in need of replacement. Cabeen tells WGIL it was always nice to see the memorial during trips to the area.
“It’s nice also, sometimes: in the new City Hall building they have a collection of pictures of mayors and go there and see him memorized in the photograph and it’s been a while since dad passed but it’s nice to know some people still remember him,” says Cabeen.
The family used the opportunity to reach out to the City’s Public Works Department, specifically Cox, in an effort to replace the memorial tree. Funds were donated by the former mayor’s children to make the work happen.
Mayor Cabeen served the City of Galesburg for 19 years and among his accomplishments were the appointment of the first African American and female City aldermen. Cabeen tells WGIL his father always tried to do what was best for Galesburg.
“Sometimes what other people thought was best wasn’t what he thought was best,” says Cabeen. “In the end, he was aware of the town, he loved Galesburg, and I think Galesburg is better for his love.”
The new tree, whose roots were being watered Friday morning as City crews went about their business to move the commemoration stone to its new home, will take about 15 years to reach maturity.