Top of the Morning, March 4, 2014

Top of the Morning, March 4, 2014

As Gifford braces for today's statewide tornado drill — our story, B-2 — more signs of progress:

— On Monday, Champaign Rotary Club followed through on its promise to do more for Gifford than its donation of $10,000 made in November. President John Calderon announced at a luncheon that the club's spring project will be to plant up to 350 trees in the tornado-ravaged village,

"Gifford's in our backyard," Calderon said. "They're most in need."

Partnering with the Champaign County Farm Bureau, volunteers representing rotary clubs in Champaign, Rantoul and Piatt County will go to work in early April. Bill Malone, past Champaign Rotary president and landscape/design build manager for Ludwig Bros., said the trees are 10  to 12 feet tall but "it will be five years before they become decent-looking trees. That's why we're anxious to get started."

Past spring projects included building playgrounds and Little League fields. Rallying around Gifford was a no-brainer.

"This is our chance to help," Malone said. "Hopefully this will give the people of Gifford a shot in the arm."

— Gifford's latest community meeting is at 7 p.m. today at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, and village officials are hoping for a healthy turnarout.

Providing insight and inspiration will be Nathan Powell, a survivor of a 2011 tornado that killed 158 in Joplin, Mo.

According to Christina Gann, operations manager at the church's tornado relief site, Powell will be "giving us guidance on things to consider during our recovery."

The Champaign Rotary Club is partnering with several area groups to help bring more than 350 trees to Gifford.. Among those involved at the committee level:

Champaign County Farm Bureau Committee

Bev Ehler

Lin Warfel

Chris Murray

Tim Frick

Lee Waters

Bradley Uken

Ludwig Brothers

Bill Malone

Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District

Jonathon Manuel

Village of Gifford

Dustin Ehler, Trustee

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