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Park board agrees to give bees a boost with program

SALEM

The Salem Parks Commission agreed Wednesday to go forward with plans to become a Bee City USA.

Commission members first heard about Bee City USA from Parks Director Shane Franks at last month’s meeting, but requested additional information regarding the benefits since the cost was $200 per year.

On Wednesday, city resident Sara Baer and master gardener Marilyn McKinley addressed commissioners about the idea, urging them of the importance of bees to pollinate plants and how Bee City USA can provide educational materials for programs in the community.

McKinley helped design the pollinator garden at Waterworth Memorial Park and talked about how crucial bees are to the food chain.

“Our bees are in trouble and if our bees are in trouble, we’re in trouble,” she said.

One of every three bites people take depend on pollination and U.S. bee colonies have been going down due to loss of habitats, disease and use of pesticides and herbicides. She said “bees have helped us and continue to help us, it’s time for us to help them.”

Baer, who’s involved in the Downtown Salem Partnership and other organizations in the city, said Bee City USA can provide educational/promotional materials for people to learn about bees and pollinator gardens. The benefits include being able to educate folks on pollination, how it can improve local food production and gardens, stimulating the plant market, teaching people about removal of invasive species and what plants can attract pollinators.

There’s already community support for Bee City USA. Franks stressed that being a Bee City USA has nothing to do with people having bee hives, which are prohibited in the city. The idea is to plant pollinator gardens to attract bees.

McKinley said master gardeners from the OSU Extension are already committed to provide educational programs.

Commissioners agreed to join the Bee City USA for one year to see if it’s a successful program, then review whether to continue.

In other business, the commission gave Franks permission to apply for a NatureWorks grant to replace all the lighting at Centennial Park with LED. As part of the project, he said they may upgrade the lighting in the pavilions to LED solar systems, which city electrician Scott Devan suggested.

The plan is for labor to be done in-house with Devan and the parks department doing the work, with the grant covering materials. Franks didn’t have an exact estimate on the cost, but was seeking quotes. Up to $71,000 is available in Columbiana County, with the grant covering 75 percent and the awardee expected to cover 25 percent. A resolution will have to be approved by city council for the application, which is due June 1.

The parks department previously was awarded a NatureWorks grant two years ago to pay for last year’s renovation of the bathroom at Waterworth Memorial Park near the duck pond.

Franks updated commission members on the progress of a new boat dock being built at Salem Lake, telling them the project will be more expensive than first thought. He learned that treated lumber can’t be used, talking with city Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart who referred him to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Division of Surface Water, then the drinking water division.

The city lake, or reservoir, supplies the city’s drinking water.

Redwood would have been extremely expensive, with cedar being the next option. Cedar was purchased in Warren and composite planks will be used on top. Steel plates were also necessary.

The cost now is estimated at $1,300. The original estimate was $700.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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