TALLMADGE — Friends and family members now have an opportunity to create a living memorial to a loved one as well as beautifying the city.

The city is now offering the Living Tree Program, an opportunity to establish a natural remembrance by planting a living tree within the city parks. In addition, the planting of a tree is also commemorated on the Living Tree plaque in the lobby of the Tallmadge Recreation Center in the form of an engraved brass leaf.

The program was unveiled in January, with the dedication of the plaque, donated in memory of Gene Stalnaker, who was a former city councilman and active in the community for many years. It was given to the city by his widow, Betty, and children, Beth Burch, Becky Allman and Russell Stalnaker and their families.

The new program was created by the city’s public service director, Mike Rorar, who also started similar programs during his employment in Bath and Canton.

Becky Allman, the daughter of Mr. Stalnaker, said she approached Rorar after her father passed away in September 2017 about donating a tree in his memory in the Circle Park.

Rorar told her about the programs he had started in the other communities and that he would like to have one in Tallmadge. "It was an awesome idea," she said. After speaking to her mother and siblings about the plan, "they were all for it."

The trees will be planted in the fall, Rorar said, when the tree is dormant which reduces the stress on the tree and allows it to root easier.

Allman said two trees will be planted in the fall from her family - one for her father and his longtime service to the community and a second in memory of her granddaughter who was stillborn in November 2018.

Trees donated through the Living Tree Program will be planted in the Circle Park, Rorar said. "The goal is to get all the parks’ landscaping plans so they can go in another park."

He added the landscaping plans would also provide which tree species will be best for that park depending on the conditions. Presently, Rorar said, the Circle Park’s landscaping plan calls for just under 50 trees.

When that occurs, participants would have the opportunity to choose which park if they wish.

Participants and the individual being remembered do not have to be residents of Tallmadge, Rorar said.

All trees have been preselected by a landscape architect and were chosen for unique characteristics of flowers, fruit, texture of bark and fall foliage. These trees have a tolerance to pests, stress and disease.The cost for a "Living Tree" is $275 per tree. This includes the tree of your choice, installation of the tree, proper care/ maintenance, one brass leaf plaque and the engraving on the brass leaf.

For more information on the program and how to order a tree and the species available, visit tallmadge-ohio.org/livingtree.

Contact Marsha McKenna at mmckenna@recordpub.com or 330-541-9430.