State College

Trees honoring vets planned for Centre Region parks

A tree planting campaign kicking off this spring in the Centre Region seeks to honor veterans while helping to bolster regional parks.

Centre Region officials heard an update on the program, called My Veteran/My Hero, at a Council of Governments General Forum meeting Monday night.

Ron Woodhead, director of Centre Region Parks and Recreation, told COG the program is a way for families to remember loved ones who have served in the military, while the money collected will fund future work to regional parks.

The campaign will initially be focused on the Oak Hall Regional Park, Woodhead said. The 68-acre park is under construction, and Woodhead said it is expected to be fully open by spring 2015.

Construction started in late April 2013 on the park's first phase, with a $3.78 million budget.

The park sits mostly in College Township, with a small section in Harris Township. Features planned in the first phase include four softball fields, a perimeter walking trail, a restroom and concession building, a maintenance building, and grass/gravel parking areas.

Woodhead said he hopes to secure donations for 50 trees for the site by March. Donations are accepted year-round through March 15, which is prime planting time to ensure the trees have the best chance of survival.

In addition to a more traditional plaque beside each tree, the memorials will also feature QR codes, which are a type of bar code and can be scanned by anyone with a cellphone. The codes will link to a website that can provide additional information, including pictures, of the veterans.

“One of the struggles of past years was on-site recognition of the donor,” Woodhead said. “They disappear, they weather.”

The QR codes, and the digital information they provide, could change that, he said.

More information about the program can be found on the parks authority website.

Also at the COG meeting Monday, the panel selected new officers for 2014.

Patton Township Supervisor Elliot Abrams will serve as chairman of COG, while Charles “Bud” Graham, a Harris Township supervisor, will serve as vice chairman.

The Centre Region officials made several other routine appointments Monday, such as approving the line officers for Alpha Fire Company. Jeff Martin was reappointed chief of the all-volunteer company.