Township memorializes former trustee with tree dedication

by Laura Bednar

Sagamore Hills trustees, community members and students from Rushwood Elementary School gathered to pay tribute to former trustee James Hunt with a tree dedication in Sagamore Hills Park.

Hunt was a trustee for four years. He was a father of three, grandfather of three and passed away in 2012. His daughter, Pam Oliver, attended the dedication.

“My dad loved the township,” she said. “Even when he didn’t serve as a trustee, he was an advocate for anything [related to] the township. He was trying to move things forward.”

During the dedication, Trustee Paul Schweikert said Hunt helped secure the last 10 acres of Sagamore Hills Park. During his tenure, Hunt, along with former Trustee Rosemary Snell, created a rain garden and rain barrel at Sagamore Hills Park to catch and filter stormwater runoff from the roof of the park’s restroom building.

Oliver noted that he and Snell were great partners, and Hunt wasn’t afraid to challenge people in the township. He was a teacher in the Nordonia Hills City School District and owned the Sagamore 400 Townhouses development.

Among Hunt’s family members, Oliver and two of his grandchildren live in the township. A plaque with Hunt’s name and an outline of his accomplishments was installed in front of a maple tree across from Sagamore Hills Fire Station No. 2 and the service department building in the park.

The plaque reads, “Jim was a member of the board of trustees for the final 10 acres of land purchased in Sagamore Hills Township Park. Jim was also instrumental in the formation of the Sagamore Hills and Northfield Center Township Fire District. His service to Sagamore Hills Township is appreciated and we hope this tree will serve as a proper remembrance.”

Hunt used to complete his paperwork in the service department lunchroom because he enjoyed looking out over the park. For that reason, former Sagamore employee Doug Kiesler suggested that the tree be planted across from the service building.

“My dad would be extremely proud of how beautiful the tree is and how Sagamore is a great community,” said Oliver. “He loved the people and loved greenspace.”

Rushwood lesson

Third- and fourth-grade students from Rushwood Elementary’s Student Leadership Team attended the dedication, which was followed by a lesson on trees and wildlife.

Rushwood Elementary teacher Renee Piper oversees the leadership team. She said the group meets once a month to participate in a school- or community-focused activity. The team has held fundraisers for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and raised money to buy pajamas for children in foster care.

After the tree dedication, each student was given a black gum tree, also known as a tupelo tree, to plant at home. Students who were unable to plant the tree at home will plant it on Rushwood’s campus.

Sandy Barbic, educational specialist from Summit Soil and Water Conservation District, facilitated the lesson. “The trees that will be planted at Rushwood will give many years of beauty and calm for generations of students,” she said.

Summit Metro Parks donated the trees and Sagamore Hills covered the cost of “Ohio Trees and Wildlife” booklets, which were given to each student.

Students noted that maple trees – like Hunt’s – were beneficial by soaking up stormwater, emitting oxygen and producing maple syrup.

For more information on gardens, trees and managing stormwater, visit and click on “Storm Water Management 101” under the “Departments” tab. ∞

A group of Rushwood Elementary third- and fourth-graders learn about trees and wildlife after attending the tree dedication. Photo by Laura Bednar.

On our cover (photo): Community members (l-r) Barb Egan, Greg Wisnieski, Fiscal Officer Laura Steimle, Trustee David DePasquale, Trustee John Zaccardelli, Trustee Paul Schweikert, John Oliver, Kim Hunt and Pam Oliver (kneeling) gathered for a tree dedication to former trustee Jim Hunt, who was instrumental in securing the last 10 acres of Sagamore Hills Park. Photo by Laura Bednar.