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Free trees planted near Baldwin Borough municipal center

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record
Megan Costantino, 14, left, and Melissa Costantino, 17, both Baldwin High School students, help to plant trees at the Baldwin Borough municipal complex on Saturday.
Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record
Bernie Pawloski of Mt. Oliver helps to plant trees at the Baldwin Borough planting event.

Nearly 45 volunteers gathered at the Baldwin Borough municipal complex early Saturday morning with a rake or shovel in hand and ready to plant 25 red cedar, hackberry, Kentucky coffee and ginkgo trees, despite the brisk temperatures.

“Free trees and volunteer labor, you can't beat that,” Baldwin Borough manager John Barrett said.

The trees — planted around the municipal building, parking lot and pool area — were received through a grant from TreeVitalize and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, with the help of nonprofit Economic Development South.

This is the third grant of free trees received by communities covered by the Brentwood-Baldwin-Whitehall Shade Tree Commission since its formation one year ago. Brentwood received 29 trees from TreeVitalize in November 2012 for Brentwood Park, and Whitehall received 25 in May for Snyder Park.

“We're thrilled,” said Jonathan Turban, chairman of the state's first multi-municipal shade-tree commission, started with guidance from Economic Development South and the Penn State Center.

One year after the formation of the commission, members of the group are celebrating many successes.

A tree inventory also is under way along Brownsville Road in Brentwood, in Elm Leaf Park in Baldwin and in Snyder Park in Whitehall, Turban said.

Many types of trees have been inventoried already in the three boroughs. And when trees are found to be damaged or in need of some tender care, members of the commission — which serves in an advisory role for Brentwood, Baldwin and Whitehall — will contact municipal officials to alert them, Turban said.

An advertising committee also has been formed to help spread information about what the commission is doing.

The committee created a Facebook page — Brentwood-Baldwin-Whitehall Shade Tree Commission — made T-shirts with the slogan “Can you dig it?” scribbled across the front and had booths at the Baldwin Borough and Whitehall community days.

“We're trying to get the word out,” Turban said.

All of the commission's accomplishments in the last year shouldn't come as a surprise, Economic Development South executive director Greg Jones said.

“We had a lot of people that were just really energetic about this,” he said.

All of this has come at no cost to the communities, Jones added.

At the Baldwin municipal complex, the trees carefully were positioned where they would provide screening for trash bins and generators in the parking-lot area or give shade to those watching a ballgame, Barrett said.

“There were some really good opportunities that were aesthetically pleasing,” he said.

Maintenance, too, was taken into consideration, Barrett said.

The volunteers included members of Baldwin High School's Project 7 club that helped with the planning. They said they, too, gained something from the day of helping the environment by planting trees.

“I'm having a great time. I've never planted a tree before,” said Whitehall resident Emily Jacobetz, 17, a Baldwin High School senior and member of Project 7.

“This is the perfect opportunity to help the environment. Trees are probably the most important thing in the environment. Not only do they help the environment, but they also look good.”

Next, the commission hopes to get a grant for free trees in the spring for McAnnulty and W.R. Paynter elementary schools in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District, Turban said. Then, in the fall, commission members will look at planting along public streets.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or

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