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White Plains Kicks Off Earth Week 2012

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Dozens gathered at city hall Monday near a newly-planted sugar maple tree to kick off White Plains’ Earth Week 2012 celebration and honor local residents, students and businesses working to green the city.

White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach said the city planted the tree with the hopes that it would benefit local critters and residents for decades.

“When it blooms within the next few weeks, we will be able to enjoy the yellow flowers and the shade it provides,” Roach said. “Each year White Plains renews its commitment to sustainable and renewable energy and environmental conservation by celebrating Earth Day for an entire week.”

Students from Eastview Middle School led the gathering in the Pledge of Allegiance. Roach then honored Reckson LS Green, for making its 360 Hamilton Ave. headquarters one of 10 buildings recognized as a gold-certified LEED building in the state. The “residential green award” was given to Alan Gassman, a land surveyor who serves on the Concerned Citizens for Open Space and often works with the city’s conservation board.

“Alan is being given this award for his work as a lifelong advocate for the environment,” Roach said. “Alan was also instrumental as an advocate for the city’s purchase of a strip of land behind Orchard Street, which is now on the city’s open space inventory. This land is important for the city’s wildlife, and being near five city wells, it will improve our water shed.”

The city honored Benjamin van Doren , a high school senior, for his research documenting morning flight habits of 45,000 birds from August to November 2010, which earned him fifth place in the national Intel Science Talent Search. Van Doren thanked the city and reminded the middle schoolers to pursue their scientific interests because “hard work can definitely be rewarded and you can make a difference.”

Former Council member Dennis Power was recognized for organizing the city’s inaugural 2010 Earth Week and starting and chairing the Sustainability and Environmental Enhancement Committee.

“Dennis has showed an unrelenting commitment to greening our community,” Roach said. “When Dennis has an interest it’s always something that comes from his heart. It’s always something that is helping someone whether it’s shelter for people who are in need of shelter or helping the Earth so that our children can have a nicer life.”

Sebastianne Kent, president of the high school’s songwriters club, concluded the ceremony by performing a song she penned for Earth Week on the guitar.

“I’m really glad that I got to perform because I think protecting the earth is important because we only have one,” said Kent, a junior.

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