The City of Saline honored some of its most environmentally friendly citizens at the Dec. 3 city council meeting.
Leaders of the city’s environmental commission, including chairperson Luke Schmerberg, Dennis Kittel, Bruce Westlake and city council liaison Linda TerHaar, were on hand to present the Saline Be Green Awards.
Winners this year were Tess Carichner, Michael McVey, David Rhoads, Linden Square and the Saline Rec Center.
This was the third year for the Saline Be Green Awards, presented to individuals, businesses and organizations who have “made an effort to make positive contributions to the environment,” Schmerberg said. The awards are presented in the areas of sustainability, water quality, conservation, recycling, land use and more.
Carichner, a Saline High School student, was recognized for work she did on the Saline Area Schools mission trip to the Care Village Orphanage in Middleburg, South Africa. While recently retired educator Bob Cindric led a community effort to supply the orphanage with school supplies, Carichner led an effort to provide the community’s teenage girls with environmentally-friendly feminine hygiene kits. Girls in the community often missed classes because of hygiene issues. The re-usable kits provided the girls with important supplies. They also saved money, used little water and provided an alternative to other forms of hygiene products which can take 800 years to decompose in a landfill.
“She was a ninth grade student when she did this and she handled it all with great maturity and professionalism,” Schmerberg said.
Michael McVey is professor at Eastern Michigan University. Before he was elected to the Saline Board of Education he served on the city’s environmental commission. McVey was recognized for his work to fund a Saline Area Schools 17-acre classroom at the Leslee Niethammer Saline River Preserve. McVey applied for and received an EMU grant to fund an exercise at the preserve south of the city. The funding helped students develop interpretative signs which were placed around the preserve, drawing attention to the various ecological and natural elements found at the site. McVey has currently working on funding for a second project at the site. This project would have children geo-tagging observations and using artificial intelligence to identify foliage and other life forms.
The environmental commission also presented what sounded a little like a “lifetime achievement” awards to David Rhoads, the retired businessman and former member of Saline City Council.
Schmerberg said Rhoads was recognized in an “honor roll” category for all the years he spent “in Saline advocating for many environmental issues.” Rhoads served on the city’s environmental commission and volunteered at the group’s events and activities. He served on the River Raisin Watershed Council and was “a tireless advocate for the environment” in Saline. Schmerberg noted that Rhoads’ work coordinating the land purchase that became the Leslee Niethammer Saline River Preserve introduced countless students and residents to “a living nature center.”
Linden Square was recognized in in the business category for its use of geothermal heat. Schmerberg explained that a horizontal loop system circulated water underground, taking advantage of the constant temperature of the earth only a few feet below ground.
“It’s one of the most environmentally sustainable and efficient ways of heating a building. Linden Square chose to install this system at no small expense to themselves to ensure they have the most environmentally-friendly system for their facility,” Schmerberg said.
The system is used to occupy all 109 apartments at Linden Square. The award was presented to Staci Tripolsky, administrator at Linden Square.
The final award went to the Saline Rec Center for its compost system. It started five years ago when Rec Center staff were trying to find a better way to dispose of the grapefruit peels left by a regular customer. They started composting the peels with old coffee grounds. After a few months, they started a compost bin located by the raised bed gardens behind the Rec Center. The soil from the compost bin is often used by the kids tending to the garden during kids camp every summer.