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100-plus volunteers turn out to work on Union Bridge planting project on farm

More than 100 volunteers came out to Gravel Springs Farm in Union Bridge April 26 to plant 1,200 trees at the farm to improve water quality in the Upper Potomac Watershed.

The tree planting was coordinated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and sponsored by a donation from Washington Gas Energy Services and Sterling Planet Inc., an Atlanta-based company that offers business and residential customers renewable-energy certificates.

While at the farm, the two companies made a combined donation of $135,000 to the Carbon Reduction Fund, which is managed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and supports efforts to reduce pollution in the bay.

There are two main types of projects supported by the Carbon Reduction Fund. The first is tree plantings along rivers and streams that flow into the bay, like the April 26 event in Union Bridge, and the second type of project is helping area farmers adopt new planting and fertilizing practices,

"These practices will lead to reduced levels of nitrogen runoff into the bay and its tributaries, along with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions," Harry Warren, president of Washington Gas Energy Services, wrote in an email.

This is the fourth year that Washington Gas Energy Services has held a tree planting and supported the event with staff members serving as volunteers, but this is the first year the company has opened the volunteer opportunity up to its customers.

"We know that our customers are interested in helping improve the environment and thought this would be a great opportunity for them to do so right in the local community," Warren wrote. "All WGES customers located in Carroll County were sent an email inviting them to the event."

Of the volunteers, about 30 were WGES employees or employee friends or family members, and there were 10 student volunteers from Northern Virginia Community College, one of WGES's clients that matches 35 percent of its natural gas usage with carbon offsets through WGES's CleanSteps program. The carbon offsets in the CleanSteps program are provided by Sterling Planet.

The company was not sure how many of the remaining volunteers were customers of WGES.

Paul Sorenson, owner of Gravel Springs Farm, said April 26 was a beautiful day and it was great to have so many volunteers out to help his farm - and the environment.

"We planted everything in three hours or so," he said. "There were a lot of local volunteers and people from all over the state as well. It was a perfect day."

Carnival week

The Union Bridge fire company's annual carnival will take place May 26-31, with special entertainment planned for each night and lots of food available.

Special events include a Memorial Day Service at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8806, 115 Penrose St., Union Bridge, at 6 p.m. May 26 and the firemen's parade at 7 p.m. May 28. Live bands will perform every night except May 28.

Lunches will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 27-30, and dinner platters will be available every day from 4:30 to 7 p.m. with carryouts available. Food vendors will offer pit beef and pit turkey, fried ham sandwiches, fried chicken, crab cakes, Italian sausages, hot dogs and hamburgers, french fries, pizza, funnel cakes, fried Oreos and more. New this year will be hand-dipped ice cream.

A silent auction with antiques, collectibles, handcrafted items, gift certificates and more will be ongoing throughout the week. The auction building will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then 4 p.m. until close each night. The final cutoff for placing bids will be 7 p.m. May 31.

Raffles for a bushel of crabs, a stainless steel grill and cash prizes with a top prize of $2,500 will be available. Ride tickets are good for the whole night starting at 6 p.m., and a $2 off coupon will be available at http://www.ubfc8.org.

The carnival grounds are at 8 W. Locust St., Union Bridge. For more information, visit the fire company's website or call Dave Buffington at 443-605-4108.

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