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1 - 16 of 16 Comments Last updated Feb 19, 2010
Mark Witsken

Urbana, OH

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#1
Mar 2, 2009
 
Wanted to add:
This type of damage is in no way any direct fault of Springboro Schools.

It can be directly attributed to the negligence of the Miamisburg contractor who installed Five Points & Dennis landscaping back in the summer of 2006.

If the district is to blame for anything at all, it is the fact that a certain unnamed party it has neglected to provide for ANY necessary maintenance (edging, mulching, pruning) since the two new schools have opened, in addition to his apparent neglegence in not providing for the required inspection for dead plant materials at the two newer elementary schools immediately prior to the expiration of the 1 year installation warranty!

The original Miamisburg landscape contractor has agreed to work with Springboro Schools to make amends for negligence, and replace some of the damaged cherry trees, like what you see in this pic...

Now, take a minute to drive around and look carefully at the landscapes and trees around Five Points Elementary, Dennis Elementary, & the High School.
Is Springboro Schools ready to admit that they've largely squandered away YOUR tax dollars when they've landscaped these schools, because they've cared next-to-nothing about MAINTAINING them?!?
save old millage

Urbana, OH

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#2
Feb 14, 2010
 
My kid goes to Dennis elementary & last fall we noticed some of the trees on the grounds were either dying or completely dead.
Is this from poor original planting practices from the landscape installer or from lack of maintenance?
If Mr. Witsken's claims are true then these dead or dying trees represent chips left on the table, or in other words a wasted part of our initial tax dollar investment in Dennis & Five Points infrastructure that people responsible for grounds maintenance in the Springboro schools district evidently don't care much about.
Bernie

Amelia, OH

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#3
Feb 14, 2010
 
Mark has brought it to the attention of George Long. They did find that the landscaper was at fault. Not sure what came out of it. Mark is knowledgable on that subject.
Mark Witsken

Urbana, OH

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#4
Feb 17, 2010
 
save old millage wrote:
My kid goes to Dennis elementary & last fall we noticed some of the trees on the grounds were either dying or completely dead.
Is this from poor original planting practices from the landscape installer or from lack of maintenance?
If Mr. Witsken's claims are true then these dead or dying trees represent chips left on the table, or in other words a wasted part of our initial tax dollar investment in Dennis & Five Points infrastructure that people responsible for grounds maintenance in the Springboro schools district evidently don't care much about.
(save old millage- look me up & give me a call if you will.)
Congratulations!
Aside from a few others on this website who've posted their sympathy, you're probably the only other person around town that's physically taken the time to turn your head away from your daily routine to notice these dying and/or dead trees at Dennis & recognize that impact on your tax investment in the construction of Dennis (& Five Points) Elementary Schools.
The trees & landscape represent our spent tax dollars.
The district is responsible for the upkeep of the trees & landscape just as much as the turf.
They aren't doing their job, and our investment dollars are dying literally, day by day.
Of course, trees & landscaping that adorn the perimeter of school buildings don't cost anywhere near taken into perspective when looking at roofs, bricks, parking lots, furnaces, heating & cooling equipment, books, teachers, administrators & the high taxpayer costs of their public sector echelon health benefits many of us have taken a close look at the past couple weeks.
Because landscaping is at or near the bottom of his list of priorities, the business manager of this district pays it lip service only from time to time when yours truly lights a fire. He'll recruit some edging & mulching help in the form of WCCC co-op students. But as far as tree replacement goes...zip...nothing.
Some time ago there was supposed to be some effort put forth to replace X number of these dead trees thru the solicitation of donations from area nurseries/garden centers.
Even talk of a 'volunteer mulch day' at FP & Dennis.
Neither happened.
But y'know....the new year means new hope, right?
(-;
PTO mom

Springboro, OH

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#5
Feb 17, 2010
 

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At our school we plant a lot of the landscape and it is done via a volunteer effort. Perhaps you could organize such an effort at your school Mr. Witskin? I think that is half the trouble of getting volunteer days, someone just needs to step up to the plate and make it happen. If you are a parent over there, what better person than you? I can imagine a few parents could help out with planting, speading fertilizers, etc.

This is just one problem when we can't pass our operating levy for these schools.

My guess is the turf received a higher priority because kids actually play on it and use it. I like trees too:-), but they are more of just for pretty than something that is actually used by the kids.

Hopefully, by working together, we can have both.
Mark Witsken

Urbana, OH

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#6
Feb 17, 2010
 
Bernie wrote:
Mark has brought it to the attention of George Long. They did find that the landscaper was at fault. Not sure what came out of it. Mark is knowledgable on that subject.
The cherry tree situation in front of Five Points Elementary has not been resolved to date.
Last I heard, the Miamisburg landscape contractor was due last fall to replace the trees with the worst affected trunks.

Since the incorrect rope has been cut off over a year ago, a few of the trees have made a decent recovery & have put out significant new growth, but others have not and/or will never be aesthetically viable specimens because their top has mostly or even COMPLETELY died, leaving only useless water sprouts to emerge from the lower trunk.

And a scary thing about non-biodegradible ropes girdling tree trunks, particularly CHERRY tree trunks, is scars from these wounds could open the door for potential future problems with inner bark eating critters known as the cherry tree or peach tree borer.
They kill fruit trees in much the same way the emerald ash borer kills ash trees, except unlike EAB they're not prone to RAPID lateral movement.

Prevention treatments like Tree-äge (exclusively for EAB) and Merit injections are really the only smart way to handle borers.
If they get started you'll soon know because you'll see tiny 'D' shaped holes in the lower trunk. Soon they'll entrench themselves in the cambium (inner bark) of the tree & feed in a criss-cross random habit.
Death is imminent when a tree's cambium circumference is finally cut all the way around by borers, at a given height.

The district's paid architects planned about a 12 or so purple ashes to be planted at Five Points & Dennis; and they were indeed planted in the fall of 2006.
This was planned before EAB was predicted to come this far south quite fast, even by most folks at ODA.
But regardless of the timing of the planting vs. the timing of EABs entrance into Warren County, the district has done nothing to protect those 12 or so trees against EAB, despite my specific recommendations of the last 4+ years.
So because of their track record, I doubt they'd lift a finger to protect damaged cherry trees against potential borer infestation.
Mark Witsken

Urbana, OH

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#7
Feb 17, 2010
 
PTO mom wrote:
At our school we plant a lot of the landscape and it is done via a volunteer effort. Perhaps you could organize such an effort at your school Mr. Witskin? I think that is half the trouble of getting volunteer days, someone just needs to step up to the plate and make it happen. If you are a parent over there, what better person than you? I can imagine a few parents could help out with planting, speading fertilizers, etc.
This is just one problem when we can't pass our operating levy for these schools.
My guess is the turf received a higher priority because kids actually play on it and use it. I like trees too:-), but they are more of just for pretty than something that is actually used by the kids.
Hopefully, by working together, we can have both.
What specific district school do you & others volunteer your time for, PTO mom?
Our kids were at FP when it opened but have since moved on.
I continue to prune there from time to time & have helped with edging & mulching when it's available.
For the first year or two there used to be flowers planted out directly in front of FP in a large bed, but I assume $ for flowers dried up, enough volunteers couldn't be had, or both.

I hear exactly what you're saying about turf maintenance taking a higher priority over the landscape.
And I'm very glad you brought up the topic of sports turf.
Last fall I caught wind from a distict official that the hay field directly behind Five Points could soon be developed into a all-purpose sports field.

Here's some questions to ponder:
In about 9 years when Dennis & Five Points equal the current age Springboro High School (12 years), how will they resemble it from the exterior?
Will they have nice playing/practice fields like SHS, while in the landscape/trees continue to be neglected to the point where they're simply plucked out of the ground as they die & the bald spots in the soil slowly grow over with weeds?

After the snow melts, take a moment & slowly drive your vehicle around the high school driveway. Drive all the way around the building. This landscape including trees was installed 13 years ago in 1997 using our tax money. If you look at tree patterns from a deductive perspective of the 'missing man', you can look down at the turf & usually find the original circles where tree mulch rings were edged at an earlier point. Dozens of trees at the high school have died & have uncerimoniously been yanked out of the ground by maintenance staff or mowing vendors through the years!!
This kind of taxpayer dollar waste is so gradual it doesn't need to be covered up. Other landscape & trees around the area provide perfect camoflage because they gradually grow over time. The powers-that-be just continue to order the yanking out of the dead, and do almost nothing in terms of proper maintenance to prevent it.
And within the last 12 years there's certainly been plenty of opportunity for them to take steps to do this. Lord knows this district hasn't always been tax dollar lean.
PTO mom

Springboro, OH

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#8
Feb 17, 2010
 
My children are at Dennis. Honestly, I've not been as active as I'd like this year as I went back to work full time (new job not a lot of time off). I know they have sent out emails and in volunteer efforts mums have been planted, they have painted hopscotch and 4 squares on the parking lots to help the kids at recess, They have plans to build a shelter on the grounds (not paid for by the tax payers but out of PTO funds) etc.

You sound very knowledgeable about landscape Mr. Witskin. I am sure 5pts would love to have your help and assistance. I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I think your efforts could be better used to coordinate a volunteer effort do help out instead of complaining about it on a Topix board or going to the business manager (who probably doesn't nearly as much as you do about landscape). I would imagine your old school would be very appreciative of this.

With all due respect, the community passed building levies to build 5pts and Dennis (both were needed as our enrollment sky-rocketed these past 10 years) but they have yet to pass an operating levy, which could actually MAINTAIN the buildings. It really is sad--this is only one example of how our school quality is slipping due to all the cuts, and failure to get an operating levy passed. So, as I see it, they have not squandered your tax dollars, but had to cut something and trees are low on the priority list. It is like if you pay to buy a home but then loose your income to actually maintain it.
Mark Witsken

Urbana, OH

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#9
Feb 17, 2010
 
PTO mom wrote:
With all due respect, the community passed building levies to build 5pts and Dennis (both were needed as our enrollment sky-rocketed these past 10 years) but they have yet to pass an operating levy, which could actually MAINTAIN the buildings. It really is sad--this is only one example of how our school quality is slipping due to all the cuts, and failure to get an operating levy passed. So, as I see it, they have not squandered your tax dollars, but had to cut something and trees are low on the priority list. It is like if you pay to buy a home but then loose your income to actually maintain it.
It is nice to know that Dennis' grounds is being taken care of to that extent these days.
By going to the business manager I had hoped to become a source of advice regarding EAB and ash trees, the cherry tree issue at Five Points, to gain initial permission for what volunteer work I wanted to perform on my own at Five Points, and to get names of contacts in the district that might be interested in joining in a group of volunteer work. Honestly, I didn't look at it as an individual school thing, but rather from a perspective of the district office.
We both agree that trees & landscape are near the bottom of the priority list. I would hope that everybody reading this thread would agree with that.
PTO mom you have to understand what I'm talking about here is the exact same good logic brought up in the weeks leading up to a school levy, to name just a couple:
RESPONSIBLE SPENDING
MAINTAINING OLD INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS BEFORE BUILDING NEW ONES
And NO, we're not automatic "no-bies" when it comes to levy time. We've gone both directions, split our 2 votes, and even chosen not to vote on one occasion (which of course when it comes down to the tightness of Springboro levies, is a way of voting in & of itself.)
You're right, PTO mom, I want to do things to help the district using the quarter century of talents & skills I have.
But the messages I see & hear coming from district officials makes me hesitant to get involved any more than I am because it's clearly obvious they don't care a whole lot.
For example, the landscape warranty for both Dennis & Five Points plantings expired during late fall 2007. It was a 1 year warranty.
They were both installed the fall of '06.
In my efforts to persuade aforementioned district business manager to replace X number of dead trees, he vowed to try to get donations from nurseries.
Again....didn't happen.
When I went to the district office last fall & asked for a copy of a pre-expiration landscape warranty report for each of these two schools, I was told no such document existed.
On a whim I called the Miamisburg landscape contractor looking for a similar document, a 'death count' if you will...no luck.
So my feelings walking away were, and have been:
Why bother throwing much time & effort at this anymore when it's obvious there's next to NO DISTRICT OFFICE ACCOUNTABILITY for the tax dollar investment the public's already devoted?
PTO mom

Springboro, OH

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#10
Feb 17, 2010
 

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I'm sure that would have been frustrating, Mr. Witsken. I'm glad you to hear you have been open minded about the levies. There seems to be a lot of hostility about that on here:-).

I think you have some very good ideas and some wonderful experience. I'd encourage you to attend a board meeting and talk about some of your ideas with the Board. I would love to see a volunteer driven effort to help out with grounds--even if it just adds curb appeal--I think that is quite nice. Maybe we could even include some kids in the job if a determined volunteer, such as yourself, could lead the way.
Mark Witsken

Urbana, OH

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#11
Feb 19, 2010
 
Save old millage, it was very nice to talk to you yesterday.
Mark Witsken

Urbana, OH

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#12
Feb 19, 2010
 
PTO mom wrote:
I think you have some very good ideas and some wonderful experience. I'd encourage you to attend a board meeting and talk about some of your ideas with the Board. I would love to see a volunteer driven effort to help out with grounds--even if it just adds curb appeal--I think that is quite nice. Maybe we could even include some kids in the job if a determined volunteer, such as yourself, could lead the way.
Thank you, PTO mom.
As you probably already realize since you're involved in the PTO, organized grass roots volunteer efforts are in most caes quite short-lived UNLESS the cooresponding executive segment of that specific organization provides some standard, or basic groundwork for others to follow.

At least in terms of grounds maintenance standards, there IS no standard in this district.
Just mow the grass, plow the snow & send your bills in to the district office every week.....thank you.

As a matter of fact, the local contractor that secures the district grounds maintenance contact year after year apparently is less than supervised when they're mowing etc around the properties.
This is evident by more than a few quite damaging direct impacts to deciduous & evergreen alike.
The silence is absolutely deafening when this issue is brought up to the district B.M.
PTO mom

Springboro, OH

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#13
Feb 19, 2010
 
This is why I would suggest you bring it up at a board meeting Mr. Witsken. If you don't feel the business manager is handling it well, it should be discussed at a board meeting.

I'm just pointing out, don't post and vent here, do something that might make more action happen. I like trees too! I think they meet a couple of times a month.
Bernie

Amelia, OH

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#14
Feb 19, 2010
 

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Mark, send an email to Kelly Kohls. I think that will get the ball moving. You are going to get little time at a meeting.
Mark Witsken

Urbana, OH

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#15
Feb 19, 2010
 
PTO mom wrote:
This is why I would suggest you bring it up at a board meeting Mr. Witsken. If you don't feel the business manager is handling it well, it should be discussed at a board meeting.
I'm just pointing out, don't post and vent here, do something that might make more action happen. I like trees too! I think they meet a couple of times a month.
PTO mom & Bernie I don't disagree with this approach in principle.
And yes I have been some board meetings in person.

In context of the current unsettled climate of the Springboro school board, I suspect the indecisive word... "might"... is a word we'll be hearing & remembering quite a bit as we turn off Time Warner cable DVR or when we walk out the doors of a Tues night meeting.

But nontheless I will take this matter into further consideration, wait for more possible feedback responses, and act in some manner probably about the same time the snow finishes melting.
Thank you for your input & recommendations.
after the long job

Springboro, OH

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#16
Feb 19, 2010
 

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i've heard many rumors that kelly kohls has been looking to get george long fired. i've talked to some folks that said she even brought it up in her campaigning. he can be replaced with someone from camp kohls that they feel will do a better job? i didn't give it much thought back in october/november but after seeing these posting i'm not sure if the gossip is the smoke, the fire or just a red herring. anyone else heard anything on this?

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