Lehighton Shade Tree Commission members had plenty of help this year spreading their tree planting mission.
To start off this year's projects, they enlisted the help of Lehighton Boy Scout Troop 82 to help bag 200 seedlings which were to be presented to Lehighton Area Middle School students to take home to plant.
Boy Scouts mixed the soil and water with hand shovels and then with their bare hands. Next they set up an assembly line of workers near Trinity Lutheran Church to fill each of the bags with soil and stuck the trees into the soil and tied the bags shut with rubber bands.
"We've always done this part ourselves," said Diane Hoffman, a member of the Lehighton Shade Tree Commission. "It always took us forever."
The Boy Scouts put their youthful energy into the project and with the number of boys involved and their dedication to the project, it was done in less than an hour.
"We may be on to something," said Hoffman. "We're all getting older and it's nice to see the boys involved with it and having fun at the same time."The Shade Tree Commission also had help with sponsoring the cost of the seedlings by PPL, who has had a great working relationship the Commission. This partnership has helped Lehighton to continue to be designated a Tree City USA for 19 years.
After the tree seedlings were bagged, they were distributed to the students during the annual Arbor Day program at the environmental center at the Lehighton Area Middle School on Friday.
PPL has sponsored the trees and seedlings at the Middle School for the past eight years.
As the program and tree planting began, the students were warned by Brian Deeken, regional forester, that it was important not to plant their trees to close to their home's foundation, driveways, sidewalks or sewer lines and any other underground services lines.
"It's also important to not plant trees underneath power lines," said Bill Klokis, manager of vegetation management for PPL.
"To increase the success rate of your trees, the hole must be deep enough and wide enough for the root system," said Joe Yescavage, seventh grade science teacher."Deeken said that the hole to plant a tree must be twice the size of the ball. He suggested that the burlap around the roots be loosened, but that if a tree is wrapped in plastic, the plastic must be removed before planting.
Students planted the two donated pink flowering dog wood trees, which are expected to grow up to 10 to 15 feet tall.
The environmental center is an outdoor classroom, which was founded by Yescavage 11 years ago to give his students some outdoor hands-on instruction.
Each year Yescavage, the Lehighton Shade Tree Commission and PPL come together to help the students celebrate trees on Arbor Day.
Deeken shared comments about the purpose of planting trees. Among the trees' purposes are: providing a home for wildlife and birds, food for wildlife and birds, plus trees give homes protection from sun and wind, thus helping homeowners with energy costs of cooling and heating homes, plus providing oxygen into the atmosphere.
Both Klokis and Deeken helped students Gary Goodhile II and Sessa Lenhardt plant the pink dogwoods which already had spring blooms showing on it's branches.Also making a presentation was Mayor Donald Rehrig who proclaimed April 27, 2012 as Arbor Day in Lehighton. Rehrig allowed several students to help read the proclamation.
In honor of Arbor Day, Frank Snyder, service forester for the Department of Community and Natural Resources declared that Lehighton has been named a Tree City USA for the 19th year.
Then on Saturday, Boy Scout 82 and the Lehighton Shade Tree Commission were busy in downtown Lehighton planting still more trees. The Lehighton Shade Tree Commission provided the trees, top soil and some tools and the Boy Scouts brought more tools and lots of enthusiasm.
Before lunchtime, two Cleveland pear trees were planted in front of the Dollar Store along Route 209, First Street, Lehighton, and then the Scouts moved on to plant the last Cleaveland pear in front of Diggity Dog restaurant.
Cleaveland pear trees are an ornamental tree which blooms with white flowers.
"My next goal is to plant trees all along Second Street so that it looks like it did when I was a kid," said Mark Hoffman, chairman of the Lehighton Shade Tree Commission.