Pictured above left are Rotary members and workers that helped out Saturday morning planting trees at Ebell Park. At right, Rotary members plant a tree at Ebell Park. Photos by Don Johnson

Rotary Club: Ebell Park tree planting celebrates Rotary Centennial

March 16, 2005
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesAlthough the January/February storms delayed the project, Santa Paula Rotary members and other volunteers took the first step in recreating Ebell Park circa the early 1900s.Saturday’s Ebell Park Planting Day was an ambitious project: 18 trees ranging from coastal oaks to Bradford pears and dozens of flowering shrubs were planted. The project honors the 1905 founding of Rotary Club in Chicago by attorney Paul Harris and a handful of friends. Today Rotary is an international service organization.The club will eventually install a fountain, monument sign, and recreate a pergola that decorated Ebell Park.Rotarian Mike Mobley, who with Norm Wilkinson is co-chairman of the project, was busy finishing off a planting. “Rotarian at Work” was embossed across the back of his T-shirt, a gift from the club last year when Mobley was honored as the recipient of the Gale Mason Award.Many Rotarians found themselves far outside their usual line of work: Mike Hause, president of Santa Clara Valley Bank, was pushing a dirt-filled wheelbarrow across the wide park expanse. “We even had some community members here that Wally [City Manager Bobkiewicz] sent down from Veterans Park” who had worked on the Santa Paula Beautiful! event, said Rotarian Nils Rueckert.The pergola’s foundation – constructed by Rotary Club President Scott Dunbar and Mendez Concrete - will be outfitted with stone and topped by lumber when Rotarians finish the job.
Mobley furnished all the tools for the work as well as some extra helpers, and “Mike and Norm came out Friday, spotted all the trees and had a bobcat out there to dig the holes. Those two deserve all the credit…I’m just the traffic engineer,” Rueckert said with a laugh.The dozens of shrubs planted along the park’s east side, the few in front of the Santa Paula Theater Center and trees including jacaranda, coast redwoods, coast live oak, weeping willow, Bradford pears and American sweet gums, will provide “lots of color” when they bloom, noted Wilkinson. “In a few weeks it will be gorgeous…the weeping willow is Nils’,” who contributed $250 to the Rotary Club for the tree.Landscape architect Curtis Stiles donated his services to the project and based his design on the original 1917 layout of the park as well as the city’s list of approved park trees. Much care is being taken in the construction of the pergola: “It won’t fall down like the last one,” said Wilkinson. “It’s got big concrete footings…this one won’t rot.”Club President Dunbar noted that the tree planting took about three hours. “Now we’ve got it knocked down to the details. When we first got here we had two guys lifting the trees but those boxes,” some weighing as much as 200 pounds each, “just got heavier” as the morning progressed. “…The last few felt like 400 pounds!”Volunteers included Emily Furlong and Whitney Weil, both 11 years old. The girls and Whitney’s father, Jerry, had volunteered earlier in the day at Veterans Park. “Community service is part of their school curriculum,” noted Weil of the two girls, who were busty cleaning earth from around a freshly planted tree.

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