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MED spends Thursday planting trees through Global ReLeaf grant

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MASSENA - Approximately 60 fifth graders from the Madison Elementary School welcomed a new addition to their campus grounds this week.

The Massena Electric Department is in the midst of utilizing a $19,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation and American Forests to plant nearly 150 new trees throughout the community.

Utility group officials were at two different locations Thursday, first stopping by the school for a tree planting ceremony.

The 17-foot Crimson Maple came courtesy of North Racquette Greenery and its christening was witnessed by the group of students.

“Today’s sort of like celebrating Christmas in (April) for MED. ... What MED does - when we’re keeping the lights on - we have to work with a lot of trees and sometimes cut them. We also want people to plant trees because trees help clean the environment, and they make your house more comfortable by providing shade or by providing a wind block,” MED Superintendent Andrew J. McMahon told the students. “We’re going to be planting trees over in some of the neighborhoods here in the village through the course of the summer.”

MED used the occasion to celebrate a late Arbor Day, whose origins date back to in 1872 and J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska and was observed with the planting of more than one million trees. The holiday is now celebrated throughout the country and the world.

“Arbor Day is a great day for our community and our environment. We are so grateful to NYPA for their support on this project,” Massena Elecvtric Utility Board Chairman James Shaw said.

“We also could not have done this without Alcoa’s support of our grant request from American Forests. The ReLeaf grant that we received, as well as the funds from NYPA, will help put over $30,000 worth of trees into our community.”

Later on in the day, MED went to the Laurel Terrace assisted living facility to plant some greenery as well.

“What a great place to enjoy a summer day. (Planting trees) helps reduce energy usage and that is why MED is interested. But it clearly beautifies our community and helps reduce stress,” board member Rene Hart said.

“A lot of people go into making this day happen. It’s not Christmas for you guys, but it is pretty exciting for us because we are making our community look better, and we’re just improving the overall beauty of our community,” Mr. McMahon added.

Three fifth-grade classes were on hand for Thursday morning’s event. Molly Griffin’s, Suzanne Thibault’s and Brandy Rufa’s classes had held a poetry contest to see who would be honored at the tree planting.

Laylah Bingham was selected as the winner and was tasked with reading her poem, “Me the Tree” in front of the crowd shortly before the tree was placed in the ground.

“Trees are here and there... In Summer Breeze... And winter dreams... With no such harm, they stand straight up... In cold and warm... With leaves hung above,” Laylah read. “... As new generations come upon me... They have set a swing over me... As new homes are made from me... I’m still straight up... As kids play on me.”

Massena Central School Interim Superintendent William H. Flynn has been impressed with MED’s dedication in helping beautify the community, as well as their ability to get the students involved.

“Certainly you can see how (the tree) enhances our entrance to the schools, and it’s really nice that students can be involved in any kind of celebration of plantings like this. It teaches them a little respect for nature,” he said.

“It’s really part of our curriculum to try to teach respect for all living things - plants and animals. This really reinforces for them that not only does the school community respect life in general, but there are contributing members of the community that want to support that too. Anything that they can take away from this is going to be positive.”






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