In its quest to balance the 2012 budget, the Riverside village board has decided to slash funds for tree trimming by $20,000 after cutting the budget for tree trimming completely in 2011.

The specter of the emerald ash borer and the reality of incredibly stormy summers in the last three years should give the board pause to reconsider its decision to do that.

As Riverside’s forester has explained, tree trimming is not a cosmetic improvement, it provides for optimal growth by training trees in their growth and can head off public safety hazards by pinpointing damaged or unhealthy trees.

Putting off this kind of work will only decrease the village’s ability to accomplish either of those tasks.

Secondly, if there is going to be an uptick in the number of ash trees that need to be taken down as a result of an emerald ash borer infestation, then the village needs to start preparing for that eventual $1 million hit (over time, of course).

While no specific trees have been identified as having been infested with the pest, the emerald ash borer is certainly here and, judging by trap samples in the past two years, its numbers are growing.

Riverside should find a way to fund tree trimming at its traditional annual budget of $70,000 and begin to set aside some funds for the day the emerald ash borer is a bona fide problem in the village.

Being purely reactive will end up hurting the village’s pocketbook a lot more in the future if the topic is avoided until the trees start dying before our eyes.

Wilson back where he belongs

People don’t give Woodrow Wilson much thought these days. The nation’s president during World War I, Wilson was an architect of the League of Nations – a failed forerunner to the United Nations – and also championed and recognized the new independent state of Czechoslovakia following Austria-Hungary’s defeat in World War I.

The Czech people felt strongly enough about Wilson’s support of their fledgling nation to honor him with a statue facing their main train depot in the nation’s capital of Prague in 1929. Nazi Germany considered that honor such a threat that when the U.S. entered the war against Germany in 1941, they pulled down the statue.

Riverside can feel pride that one of its own, Robert Doubek (RBHS Class of 1962), was the man responsible for making Wilson’s return to Prague in October. While he had plenty of help from others in his organization, the American Friends of the Czech Republic, it was Doubek that led the effort.

On Oct. 5 in what Doubek referred to as a “big Czech reunion for Americans with Czech roots,” such figures as former Czech President Vaclav Havel and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright turned out for the week-long celebration of Wilson’s return.

Wilson is back in Prague and has Riverside’s Doubek to thank for it.