VALPARAISO – Arbor Day saw a new tree planted on the Valparaiso Elementary campus, and it came with a bench too.

The tree and bench donated by Nebraska 811 came thanks to Raymond Central Fourth Grader Millie Burton and her winning poster.

Burton entered a drawing contest offered this past December by Nebraska 811, Nebraska residents are required to call 811 before digging. The Nebraska One Call Notification Act was established in 1994 to protect underground facilities, the excavating public and the general public.  The Act creates one point of communication between the excavating public and the underground utilities.

Nebraska 811 Damage Prevention Liason Jill Geyer was at the school last Friday morning to congratulate Burton for being one of 11 contest winners across the state.

She said Burton’s artwork stood out from the 468 entries because it not only had the “call before you dig” message on it, but it also conveyed this year’s theme, which featured a pirate.

That is exactly what Burton had hoped. She said she likes to draw and wanted to include the pirate after watching the Nebraska 811 video at school.

Geyer said Burton’s winning artwork will also be placed onto a billboard. No location for that has been announced yet.

The program at the school on Friday included planting a tree and offering the Nebraska 811’s message to all of the third and fourth graders who had assembled outside.

“It’s so important you do that, they made it a law,” Geyer told the students about the digger’s hotline.

She added the goal is to get youth informed about the law so they are aware and can help spread the message as well.

“You are not shy and you can teach others these things. So, we are asking you to help educate your community,” Geyer said.

The bench will be placed inside the school for right now and has a plaque with the Nebraska 811 message.

For being a winner in the contest, Burton also got to visit the state capital earlier in the month. She got to meet Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and got to tour the capital. She had been there before, but she said it was fun getting a personal tour.

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