Staunton city horticulturist plans tribute to Tech shooting victims

Story by Chris Graham

Matt Sensabaugh has a dream as to how the entrance road to Montgomery Hall Park in Staunton will look next fall.

A row of 32 shade trees beaming orange and maroon looks down upon the Queen City in his vision – in honor of the victims of last month’s shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech.

“The basic idea behind it is doing sort of a living memorial for the folks that were lost – and in honor of the folks that live on,” said Sensabaugh, the city horticulturist and arborist and a 1998 graduate of Virginia Tech, in an interview for a story in the upcoming Summer 2007 edition of The New Dominion print magazine.

Sensabaugh won approval last week from Staunton City Council to move ahead with the design of an allee lining the entrance road to Montgomery Hall Park. It is an idea that he hopes spreads across the Commonwealth and across the country.

“The long-term goal that I’d like to set for this is to work with the Virginia Nurserymen’s Association and the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the International Society of Arboral Culture to try to set up a program sort of similar to the America’s Anniversary Garden – where it encourages communities to plant 32 shade trees as a memorial, to try to make something positive of it, something that could have a long-term good impact,” Sensabaugh said.

The project in Staunton is still in the development phase right now. Sensabaugh is working on design drawings and putting together a fund-raising plan to pull together monies that will be needed for a small memorial at the site.

He hopes to have the allee ready for a dedication ceremony in time for the April 16, 2008, one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings.

(Originally published 05-15-07)

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