Xenia converts dead ash trees into art

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Loren Lorenzo is working to turn dead or almost dead emerald ash borer infected trees in Shawnee Park into works of art that commemorate Xenia’s history.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The city is targeting about a dozen trees in Shawnee Park.

The city is turning dead or almost dead emerald ash borer infected trees in Shawnee Park into works of art that commemorate Xenia’s history, according to city officials.

The second of a dozen trees in the park that have been identified for the historic carvings should be finished Monday. The carving depicts Tom Adair — a well-known Xenia businessman and member of the 1942 Xenia Central High School state basketball championship team, said Lee Warren, a city spokesman.

The artist, Loren Lorenzo, estimates he will have spent 35 to 40 hours on the piece by the time the carving is finished. Lorenzo, a Xenia native, plans to add color to the piece.

“”I’m going to paint the rim orange and the basketball orange,” he said. “The rim will be white. The background will have a stain that will darken it slightly which will make this (the wooden athlete) pop. The face, legs and the arms will all stay natural wood.”

In addition to serving as a tribute to the former basketball player, the carving is also a source of inspiration for the children who play in Shawnee Park, Lorenzo said.

“They watch me carve it,” he said. “They come up. They ask questions. They stand and watch me. It actually inspires them to create. I think that’s an awesome thing.”

Xenia is subsidizing the Rising from the Ashes project through sponsorships that have a $2,500 minimum. The basketball player tree carving was sponsored by Adair’s wife Mary Lou Adair.

“Some of the dollars from a typical sponsorship go to replant trees, essentially creating a reforestation program,” Warren said. “We replant three trees for each ash tree knowing that the chances for one of those trees to grow to maturity is greatly enhanced by planting more than one tree.”

The city’s arborist replaces each ash tree with a Red Oak, a Black Gum and a Locust tree, Warren said.

The emerald ash borer has plagued Ohio trees since 2003, according to Ohio Department of Agriculture. There are more than 3.8 billion ash trees within the state, and the emerald ash borer has made its way from Toledo, where it was initially found in the state, to almost all parts of the state.

Ash trees die within three to five years of being infested with the Asian beetle, according to the state agriculture department.

Earlier this year, Kettering announced plans to remove 111 infected ash trees located at Lincoln Park Civic Commons and the Government Center in March. An estimated 291 ash trees will be removed from city properties by fall, according the city of Kettering's website.

Kettering budgeted $100,000 for tree removal and replacement in 2016.

In April, the city of Dayton-0wned Community Golf Club reported 61 ash trees were removed after they were destroyed by the emerald ash borer. A total of 40 ash trees were removed from Dayton's Kittyhawk and Madden golf courses.

Xenia has removed an estimated 30 ash trees. Information on the costs associated with infected ash tree removal was not readily available.

“Most tree removals are handled as part of regular maintenance department duties and therefore no specific cost center for such work is assigned,” Warren said.

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