Township receives free tree from Columbia Bank in honor of Arbor Day

Green Team also give out awards for best plots in community garden

Washington Township received a free tree from Columbia Bank in honor of Arbor Day. Pictured is the newly planted tree with (L to R) Columbia Bank representative Christine Brown, Green Team Chairperson Leon Lakritz, Green Team Chair Vicky Binetti and Washington Township Mayor Joann Gattinelli.

While Arbor Day is normally celebrated in April, Washington Township extended its celebration into late June by receiving a free tree from Columbia Bank in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Arbor Day Foundation.

“The tree was planted in mid-June instead of on Arbor Day, which is in mid-April,” said chair of the Washington Township Green Team Vicky Binetti. “The bank thought they would reach out to their communities and see if they wanted a tree. And a lot of them did, 62 of the 62 branches all wanted to partake in getting a free tree.”

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Because of the demand, it took a while for all of the trees to be delivered to local communities. But once it arrived at Washington Township, the bank also hired a contractor to plant the tree wherever the town wanted. 

“The tree is outside of the municipal building by the employee entrance … It is very pretty,” said Binetti. “We were kind of worried because it has been so hot but it is doing very well. There is an irrigation system in that area so that helps a lot.”

Along with the planting of the tree, the bank commemorated the event with a sign. The township finally got together to dedicate the tree to the township earlier this month. In attendance was the Green Team, Mayor Joann Gattinelli and Council as well as the Shade Tree Advisory committee.

According to Binetti, the committee usually celebrates Arbor Day by having one of its chairmen, Jim McCann, visit all of the third-grade classrooms. It was there that he would teach the students about trees and being green and hand out a tree seedling to each student. 

“We haven’t done that the last few years because of COVID so we are hoping we can continue that next year,” said Binetti.

Along with the planting of a new tree, the Green Team has started a new tradition this growing season at the Washington Township community garden. 

The garden started seven years ago and offers 30 plots for residents of the community who wish to plant things from flowers to fruits and vegetables. Each plot is $15 and according to chairmen Leon Lakritz, it has been the best growing season yet. 

To commemorate the wonderful season, the Green Team decided to give out awards to certain plots at the end of July. 

“We wanted to get more people interested in the garden,” said Lakritz. “Everyone does their best and we will be giving out a prize.”

The three categories and their winners are as follows: Most Bountiful Garden Award goes to Les and Violet Halet, The Most Beautiful Garden Award goes to Andrew and Arlene Gerber and The Novel Garden Award goes to David and Patricia Wagner. 

“The garden gives people the opportunity to grow things from seed and appreciate the fruits and vegetables that don’t come off of grocery shelves,” said Lakritz. “We advertise that if people are interested in gardening, they should get in touch with Public Works. We start taking applications at the end of February.”


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