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Open house opens eyes for Richmond Hill residents
May 23, 2015
By Tim Kelly

How do you turn a dying tree into an autographed Robbie Alomar baseball bat?

By letting Sydney Gendron go to work on ash trees struck down by emerald ash borer infestation.

The Alomar bat was on display at the Richmond Hill Operations Centre on Elgin Mills Road East Saturday as the public was invited to see what their municipal workers do for them.

Gendron, a subcontractor for the town, was hard at work sawing ash logs into strips of wood, usable for multiple products at Saturday’s open house.

Elsewhere, families listened to music, enjoyed barbecue treats, picked up yard goodies ordered them in advance and checked out some of the vehicles the town uses to keep Richmond Hill in working order.

Mario Di Salvo, a town water technician who served as chairperson of today’s National Public Works Week open house and healthy yards event, said he was happy citizens had a chance to see “the hidden things people don’t recognize or realize.”

“When you turn on the tap for water, it’s a works employee or a series of works employees who brought that water to your house,” he said.

Di Salvo also pointed out there are myriad other services provided by town employees, such as snow removal, street-cleaning and many others.

“People have enjoyed the event, they are certainly learning a lot. They are telling us that it’s fantastic,” said Di Salvo.

He’s particularly proud of the barbecue put on by employees that raises money for Hill Hospice and Hospice Richmond Hill. Last year, each hospice received $2,000 and it’s hoped a similar amount will be raised this year.

Richmond Hill communications adviser Carrie Pitcher said the day was meant as education for the public, and Jacob Mintz, 13, a student at Windham Ridge Public School, seemed to be taking that message to heart.

As the Richmond Hill teenager said he’d learned Saturday, “trees can get really old - 96 years old. That was interesting. I also found out about the emerald ash borer, a bug can that eat trees and it’s a big problem.”