Highland Outdoor and PBI/Gordon announced today their sponsorship of the PLANET Day of Service in Kansas City, April 22, at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial.  Local lawn, tree and landscape companies will spend the day beautifying the grounds and meeting unbudgeted needs identified by Facility Management Director, Russell Gardner. Opening ceremonies will begin at 8:15 a.m.

When Doug Obermann, Product Manager for PBI/Gordon Corporation, first approached Gardner, he had already developed a substantial ‘wish list’ to stretch his budget.  Russell Gardner manages the Liberty Memorial’s 26 acre site as well as the museum’s buildings, heating, lighting and the memorial’s eternal flame since the facility re-opened in 2006.  “When Doug called me and said he had a group of lawn and landscape professionals who wanted to donate their time and money to the park, I welcomed them,” Gardner said.

The Liberty Memorial complex includes dozens of acres of turfgrass and nearly two acres of trees and shrubs.  These grounds are under a maintenance contract with RS Unlimited Landscaping, Inc.  “RS does a great job keeping turf weed free, mowed and fertilized, but our budget is seldom sufficient to meet all the needs for maintenance on these grounds. The sprinkler system really needs to be tuned up and adjusted,” explains Gardner.  “The tree boxes need mulch, and the list goes on.”

Ryan Bauer, President of RS Unlimited, had already registered for this event and was on hand to meet with Jason Cupp, Chief Executive Officer of Highland Outdoor (and current national President of PLANET), and Obermann to discuss needs for the memorial.  Both Bauer and Gardner were excited to receive professional volunteers for some of their most-needed projects.  “It is wonderful to be accomplishing work that is not in this year’s budget.  We are thankful for this help,” says Gardner.

After a tour of the memorial grounds and consultation with Gardner, Obermann and Cupp decided that they would solicit help for irrigation repairs, mulching, liming the frontage acres of turf for spring green-up and cleaning up the wooded areas along the east side of the property.  Cupp also volunteered to donate the labor and Belgard Hardscapes offered to donate the stone to build the patio for the picnic area. “Our current picnic grounds sit in a constantly muddy area,” explains Gardner. “We need a dry place for people to relax and enjoy the grounds.

Highland Outdoor and PBI/Gordon have promises of local assistance from Signature Landscape who will be tuning up the sprinkler system and Helena Chemical who is facilitating the delivery of one ton of Kelly’s pelletized lime for the turf.  Bower has obtained a mulch blower and two men to run it. The mulch has been donated by PBI/Gordon and Highland Outdoor.

Much needed tree trimming and pruning will be provided by Arbor Master Tree Service. Grass Pad Inc. is exploring the possibility of replacing 14 Sugar Maples, 18 Swamp White Oaks and one Japanese Lilac Tree.  All trees must be historically accurate and of an appropriate size to fit in with existing trees.  

The sponsors are expecting to bring as many as 90 volunteers to this event.

Originally opened in 1926 by President Calvin Coolidge, the memorial had fallen into disrepair by the 1990’s.  Local civic and veteran’s groups spearheaded a successful rebuilding effort that took four years. In December 2006 the National World War I Museum opened to critical acclaim.

The PLANET Day of Service is planned to be an annual event, “We hope this will grow year after year,” says Cupp,   “Nationally, we have 240 lawn, tree and landscape companies registered to do a Day of Service in their home towns.  This is the industry’s chance to beautify their local community’s special sites and give back to their communities,” he concluded.