Nearly 40 people gathered behind Greencastle Presbyterian Church Friday afternoon as a newly planted Accolade Elm tree was dedicated to Roger Johnston, a member of the church and former chairman of the Greencastle Shade Tree Commission.

"We're dedicating this Accolade Elm in Roger's name for his years of dedicated service to our community," Jeremy Layman, who now chairs the commission, said in opening the ceremony that was a surprise for Johnston.

Mayor Ben Thomas Jr. issued a proclamation that notes "the Greencastle Shade Tree Commission serves as stewards to the community’s beautiful tree canopy providing numerous ecosystem services to our citizens as a designated member of Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation."

The proclamation says Pennsylvania has 1.2 million acres of urban tree cover providing $441.6 million in annual air pollution removal and $290 million in annual energy conservation and "the Shade Tree Commission’s efforts benefit storm water reduction, water quality improvements, and property enhancements."

The mayor, on behalf of all citizens honored and commended Johnston "for mission accomplished as a steward of our community."

"It's been an honor to serve, I had hoped to served for a longer time period, but for obvious reasons I am unable to," said Johnston, who served on and chaired the commission for three years before stepping down in August after being diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

"It was a wonderful experience and it is so good the work continues," said Johnston, who has lived in Greencastle with his wife, Chris, since 1999. "It was great to give back to the community and always rewarding.

He said things are absolutely moving in the right direction with Greencastle's urban canopy and trees will play a role in the borough's pollution reduction requirements under MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System).

Asked about his tree, Johnston said, "I think it's wonderful to have one more."