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Civic Beautification Awards presented in joint Arbor Day celebration

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Mary Conarro presents a Civil Beautification Award to Lee and Debbie Gray while Josie Gerarde, left, details the highlights of their property during Friday’s joint Arbor Day event.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have wiped out Arbor Day this year, but an event last week celebrated both the trees and civic beautification in the City of Warren.

Held at the Midtown Lot near where the Arbor Day tree – a serviceberry – was planted earlier this year, the city’s Street Landscape Committee handed out this year’s Civic Beautification Awards.

In an Arbor Day proclamation, Mayor Maurice Cashman said that this is the 32nd year of the city’s designation as a Tree City USA and also the 32nd year of the Street Landscape Committee.

Committee member Paula Bogart highlighted the 30 years of service of City Planner David Hildebrand, who is retiring. She shared the wealth of projects he has been involved in and credited his knowledge of the city for helping to meet needs as they come up.

Hildebrand said he started with the city in 1991 and said he was his goal to “do whatever I could” with trees or parks to “build up Warren.

“I think we’ve come a long ways,” he said.

“As communities are put under more and more strain,” District Forester Cecile Stelter said, “Warren is committed to its street trees.”

She said the Tree City USA streak the city has is one of the longest in the region.

This year’s Arbor Day tree, Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz said, is a serviceberry and is “hearty to salt.

“(It’s a) tough tree,” he said. “That’s why it’s there.”

Street Landscape chair Josie Gerardi then presented this year’s Civic Beautification Awards.

The non-profit award went to the Emanuel United Church of Christ while the business recognition went to Stapleford & Byham. Three city residents were also recognized – Jack and Kim Swedler, Mark and Linda Eberl and Lee and Debbie Gray.

Gerardi credit the work of the homeowners, highlighting the work that goes into a high degree of property maintenance.

“We really appreciate what we have in Warren,” she said. “We have something to be very proud of here…. So let’s keep it that way.”

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