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Arbor Day honors Lenzmeier; Burr Oak Tree planted in Maplewood Park

Longtime West Fargo resident and businessman Frank Lenzmeier said he was "kind of blown away by the whole thing," a reference to the recent planting of a Burr Oak tree in his honor during the annual West Fargo Arbor Day observance on May 14.

On hand to help him celebrate the occasion were family and a variety of friends, including wife, Darla, daughter Jerica Coleman, and her two sons, Logan and Wyatt; sons Mike and Mark, and Mark's son, Andrew; brother and sister-in-law Gene and Marilyn Lenzmeier, Moorhead, sisters Joanne Cahill of Fargo, LeeAnn Folden of Wahpeton, and Melanie Oberg of Washburn, N.D.; brother-in-law Bob Creighton; good friends Gaylas and Phyllis Pritchard, Frances and Debbie McCann, Tom and Virginia Grady, and David Wyum, all of West Fargo; as well as several city officials and a variety of other guests.

Members of the West Fargo Urban Forestry, who annually sponsor the event, allowed Lenzmeier to select the tree of his liking as well as the location for planting.

Without hesitation, Lenzmeier chose the Burr Oak based on the fact "it is a good solid, long-lasting tree," and Maplewood Park on 17th Avenue East as the site for the planting, placing his tree in close proximity to the West Fargo VFW Veterans Memorial also situated in the park. "I picked the spot directly west of the memorial because I have such a great respect for anyone that served in the military," Lenzmeier said.

The tree planting was conducted by City Forester Yvette Gehrke and members of Amy Kensok's kindergarten class at the Lodoen Kindergarten Center, who also entertained the audience with a special 'tree' poem and song.

This is where another Lenzmeier family member got into the treeplanting act. Frank's little grandson Logan, who will start Kindergarten in the fall, was invited to helped Kensok and her students put dirt around the tree.

Lenzmeier said he was both humbled and proud to be considered for the Arbor Day recognition. "I was trying to figure out who recommended me for this great community honor."

The award is presented annually to someone making a significant impact on the community.

On that note, Lenzmeier has been actively involved in community endeavors almost since arriving in West Fargo in 1969, relocating from Wahpeton after being transferred by Burlington Northern Railroad. With five little sons, Lenzmeier said they chose "West Fargo because the school system was similar to the one in Wahpeton which we were very comfortable with."

He served as a West Fargo City Commissioner from 1972 until 1976, involved in realization of the new city hall on 4th Avenue East; helped fight the major flood in 1975; and worked closely with the school, parks and city officials to build the indoor swimming pool at L.E. Berger School.

He eventually went on to establish his own successful construction business, LTI (Lenzmeier Trucking Incorporated), which continues to be operated by two of his sons today, Mark and David.

For the last several years, Lenzmeier has devoted time to service on the West Fargo Planning and Zoning Commission. He is also a twenty-five year member of Holy Cross Catholic Church where he served on the board and council, until just recently moving to Blessed Sacrament Church.

The Arbor Day ceremony also included a welcome by Urban Forestry Committee Chair Dave Janssen, the annual reading of the Arbor Day proclamation by Mayor Rich Mattern; A poem read and song sung by Amy Kensok's kindergarten class from the West Fargo Kindergarten center; and refreshments provided by the West Fargo Urban Forestry Committee.

Sharon Bartels, representing the North Dakota Forestry Service, was also in attendance to present the annual Tree City USA honor to the city of West Fargo, the 26th time the community has received the award.

Very accustomed to public speaking, Lenzmeier said the ceremony had a marked effect on him, rendering him almost speechless, one of the few times in his life. "I really felt kind of emotional at the time and was at a loss for words." Nevertheless, he still managed to come up with the perfect choice of words that very simply summed up his feelings best: "I am humbled by this honor and thank you all very much!"

Much to Lenzmeier's delight, the event also turned out to be a steppingstone to an extended family gathering immediately following the ceremony.