Penn Oak is gone but is still the ‘giv­ing tree’

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Chris Bar­ber cbar­ber@ 21st-cen­tu­ry­

KEN­NETT >> The 447-year-old Penn Oak tree at the Myrick Cen­ter fell and died in July, but it is not for­got­ten and is still giv­ing.

On Oct. 20, the Brandy­wine-Red Clay Al­liance an­nual din­ner was held at the Men­den­hall Inn and at that time sev­eral awards mounted on rings of wood from the de­parted and beloved friend along Route 842 were given.

Re­tir­ing board mem­ber and phi­lan­thropist Eva Ver­planck as well as eques­trian ad­vo­cate and board mem­ber Carl “Bunny” Meis­ter re­ceived brass trib­utes to their many years of out­stand­ing ser­vice at­tached to 12-inch rings cut from the branches of the late tree.

Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Jim Jor­dan said Meis­ter not only brought the an­nual Brandy­wine Hills Point to Point fund-raiser to the or­ga­ni­za­tion but, “He was the epit­ome of what we look for in a board mem­ber. Con­ser­va­tion was the top pri­or­ity in his life.”

Jor­dan said Ver­planck opened the door to non­profit fund-rais­ing with her ex­per­tise and was a valu­able men­tor to new mem­bers.

“They were the two old­est mem­bers (of the board) and they car­ried the torch of the merger (be­tween the Red Clay and Brandy­wine Val­ley As­so­ci­a­tions),” he said.

Also present as a mem­ory of the tree was a hand-carved salad plate from the Penn Oak wood made by crafts­man Ron Blevins.

The din­ner was a cel­e­bra­tion of the work done by staff and vol­un­teers as well as the of­fi­cial com­ing­to­gether of the two as­so­ci­a­tions last year.

Ge­orge Clay­poole, a teacher at Hil­len­dale Ele­men­tary School was given the Out­stand­ing Teacher Award. Clay­poole as­sisted in re­me­di­a­tion of a stormwa­ter con­tain­ment project, and he also de­signed and built the school’s na­ture trail. He was joined by his prin­ci­pal, Steve Dissinger. In ad­di­tion to the honor, he was pre­sented with a check of $500 from the South­east­ern Ch­ester County Refuse Au­thor­ity, which is heav­ily in­volved in con­ser­va­tion ef­forts in Lon­don Grove.

Jen Roth, a teacher at the BRC sum­mer camps, re­ceived the out­stand­ing ed­u­ca­tor among the staff at Myrick. Ed­u­ca­tion Co­or­di­na­tor Ju­lia Steiner said she was es­pe­cially en­thu­si­as­tic and out­stand­ing when it came to teach­ing the kids about wa­ter.

Blevins and John Bare were pre­sented with the Vol­un­teer Award, Blevins for his will­ing­ness to held on the prop­erty and Bare for his help with the an­nual cleanups.

Red Streams Blue Di­rec­tor Bob Stru­ble, whose fa­ther founded the Red Clay Val­ley As­so­ci­a­tion, gave a re­port on ef­forts to clean up the streams in the water­shed. He said that from the be­gin­ning of ef­forts to deal with con­ser­va­tion and clean wa­ter in 1948, the qual­ity showed grad­ual im­prove­ments un­til the 1990s, when heavy de­vel­op­ment re­sulted in in­creased runoff go­ing into the streams. He said his main job now is deal­ing with sed­i­ment and de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of stream banks.

They have taken ac­tions to reroute and slow down the flow with J-hooks, rock ridges, mud sills and tree roots. They have also at­tacked the banks with back­hoes to make grad­ual slopes on which they plant fast-grow­ing bushes and trees. Also in the Red Streams Blue projects are bridges built for cows to cross rather than hang­ing out in the wa­ter dur­ing hot weather.

Pres­i­dent John Nolan re­ported on a suc­cess­ful year with many vol­un­teers and a bud­get that came out in the black.


Hil­len­dale Ele­men­tary School teacher Ge­orge Clay­poole, sec­ond from right, holds the check for $500 in honor of his be­ing named the out­stand­ing con­ser­va­tion teacher. From left are BRC Ed­u­ca­tion Co­or­di­na­tor Ju­lia Steiner, Hil­len­dale Prin­ci­pal Steve Dissinger, Clay­poole and South­east­ern Ch­ester County Refuse Au­thor­ity Di­rec­tor Scott Men­gle.


Eva Ver­planck, right, dis­plays her award for out­stand­ing ser­vice which is mounted on the re­mains of the fallen Penn Oak to Bunny Meis­ter, who also re­ceived the out­stand­ing ser­vice award at the din­ner on Thurs­day.


This salad bowl was carved by Ron Blevins out of the re­mains of the Penn Oak tree that fell at the Myrick Cen­ter in July.

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