12/24/13 New Leaf Society gives Eastern $10,000 grant

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New Leaf Society gives Eastern $10,000 grant
By KAREN CARTER Enterprise Editor The Mebane Enterprise 12/24/13  
Reprinted with permission.

Karen Carter/Mebane Enterprise A look at some of the landscaping being done at Eastern on Friday, Dec. 13 and Monday, Dec. 16 Karen Carter/Mebane Enterprise A look at some of the landscaping being done at Eastern on Friday, Dec. 13 and Monday, Dec. 16  

Karen Carter/Mebane Enterprise

A look at some of the landscaping being done at Eastern on Friday, Dec. 13 and Monday, Dec. 16


“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” at Eastern Alamance High School with a gift and human labor of new trees planted—magnolias and oak, and new mulch and the beginnings of a landscaping makeover.

Ron Wrightenberry, an alumnus of Eastern Alamance High School, wanted to do something for his school. He has always taken a special interest in school grounds, said Rett Davis.

A tree expert, Davis is the former director of the Alamance County Cooperative Extension Service having served in that capacity for 34 years and, since 2007, he has served as President of New Leaf Society.

In an interview by telephone with the Enterprise last Thursday, Davis talked about the work of New Leaf at Eastern, and before Eastern, the work New Leaf did making Williams High School a “community jewel.”

Karen Carter/Mebane Enterprise A look at some of the landscaping being done at Eastern on Friday, Dec. 13 and Monday, Dec. 16  

Eastern’s principal Dave Ebert contacted the alumni and Wrightenberry, knowing about the recent work New Leaf did at Williams High School, and they all sought New Leaf’s help.

A grant from New Leaf at Williams High School had resulted in protecting green space, planting sugar maples, crape myrtles and magnolias, lining the sidewalks with nuttall oak trees, adding mulch, enhancing the landscape to bring back more of a campus look, beautification to make the place attractive. Could the same occur at Eastern?

Wrightenberry, Ebert, Davis and their folks believed it could.

Davis said folks from New Leaf knew that Eastern kept the grounds clean and took a lot of pride in their school.

But something was missing: the landscaping embellishments.

Together—Wrightenberry, the high school, and New Leaf—began partnering together.

New Leaf funded the landscaping project and created a design. Wrightenberry has serviced the Mebane area in the landscaping business for 37 years and is the owner of Lawn Service Mebane. He said when he and New Leaf started talking about landscaping projects, they had Eastern “in mind.”

“New Leaf was looking for something in this area,” said Wrightenberry, “and the landscaping work at Eastern is ongoing with no tax dollars spent; all money is donated through the New Leaf Society.”

Wrightenberry said this beautification project and New Leaf’s grant of $10,000 to Eastern depends entirely on private monies.

“One of the reasons New Leaf Society exists is to bring private dollars for the purpose of beautification but also to make a place like Alamance County attractive for economic development, for people to move here, to take pride in their surroundings,” said Davis.

“New Leaf paid for the whole thing,” said Sandi Bagby of Mebane, who serves on New Leaf’s site selection committee.

“Sandi is dedicated to this; she brings potential projects to us,” said Davis.

“New Leaf is real happy to do this project for Eastern, another big high school in the county. It’s a way for us at New Leaf to give back to the school system.”

“Ron (Wrightenberry) agreed to do the maintenance,” said Bagby.

“Yes, New Leaf put up the money and worked on the design, but the exciting thing is maintaining it.”

Bagby said the garden clubs would put seasonal color around the signs.

She said in the past the garden clubs cleaned up and spruced up the trees but now Wrightenberry has agreed to undertake the maintenance job.

Bagby coordinated the orders and delivery from the tree farm. Planted were four zelkova trees, continuing a tree line to the left of the school; four nut tall oaks, out front behind the sign around the circular drive; and 11 bracken brown beauty magnolias to screen the parking lot.

Along the parking lot, it was an “eyesore,” said Davis, but the landscaping will create that attractive campus look.

He said, “Bracken brown beauty magnolia trees will help screen that area off and give greenery. One was there, but the dour zelkova trees planted will complete the circle drive. These are the same trees that line the railroad downtown.”

Davis said that trees rather than shrubbery and flowers provide more longevity and do not require high maintenance.

Wrightenberry and his crew and New Leaf and students from the classes taught by John Stewart and Steve Scarlett worked on Friday, Dec. 13 and Monday, Dec. 16. After two full days, Eastern is already sporting a new look.

Ebert showed the Enterprise around last Thursday. In addition to planting trees and providing mulch, New Leaf paid for clean up work. Ebert said, “The whole area is cleaned up; dead shrubbery removed, especially from the front part of the school.

Workers cut all the low limbs, pruned the shrubbery, trimmed the hedges, put out all new mulch and re-mulched the whole area.” Ebert showed the Enterprise where the zelkova trees, nuttall oaks, and bracken brown beauty magnolias were planted.

Ebert said the carpentry classes would build benches so the students can sit around the trees.

Davis called the work a “great synergistic effort,” something that Allen Gant Jr. hoped for when he founded New Leaf in 2007, a way for partnerships with private money to exist to make Alamance County a “gateway to places.”

“Marketing what we have, Mr. Gant is right,” said Davis. “People make decisions before they get here, whether they want to come or not.”

Eastern’s landscaping is one of more than 60 projects funded by New Leaf. For more information, go to www.newleafsociety.com and New Leaf Society is a private, non-profit volunteer organization dependent on donations and not government funds.

“That’s how we work,” said Davis.