Union County News

Cranford Says Goodbye to 'Son' of Historic Basking Ridge Oak Tree

90c6e924d1f899638ed6_FullSizeRender.jpg
Students, speakers and faculty pose in front of the oak tree Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
eb07e04f8fb25c7a7944_FullSizeRender_2.jpg
The "son" of the Basking Ridge Oak Tree will be transported to the Presbyterian Church later today Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
9f094eaf0bd563091092_IMG_6791.JPG
Dr. Thomas M. Ombrello speaking in front of the tree Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
97c177d5afa5c0cf238b_IMG_6769.JPG
School president Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
eeca330c3694a5b53764_IMG_6759.JPG
The "son" of the Basking Ridge Oak Tree in its entirety Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
90c6e924d1f899638ed6_FullSizeRender.jpg

CRANFORD, NJ — Union County College said goodbye to the “son” of the Basking Ridge oak tree in a sunny, heartfelt ceremony held on campus this morning.

The Basking Ridge oak tree, believed to be one of the oldest trees in North America, is estimated to be at least 600 years old, with a claim that George Washington sat under its wide branches, according to Nicole Torella, the manager of publications and communications at Union County College. It resides at the Presbyterian Church of Basking Ridge, and was determined to be dead last year. The famous tree will be removed from the church on Monday, April 24.

“It is the most majestic tree in the entire state,” Dr. Thomas M. Ombrello, a biology professor at UCC, said.

Sign Up for E-News

In 1995, Ombrello decided to collect acorns from the grand tree in the hopes of creating a sapling that he could plant in his arbor, the Union County College Historic Tree grove. The grove, started by Ombrello, features the offspring of trees from Civil War battlefields and homes of historic figures that include Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Wright brothers and Martin Luther King.

“I wanted to collect offspring from trees that are important in U.S. history,” Ombrello said.

The oak tree didn’t significantly shed acorns until 2001, and when it did, Ombrello and a student collected two five-gallon buckets of acorns and tended to them in Ombrello’s greenhouse. The acorn that created the strongest, fastest sapling was planted in the tree grove, and has prospered there until today, when it will be transported to the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church to rest in a spot near its predecessor.

“It’s an important tree for us, but it’s way more important to the church,” Ombrello said. “They’re going to honor the tree and continue the legacy of the original one.”

The tree removal ceremony featured speakers honoring the original tree, including Victor M. Richel, chairman of the Board of Trustees at UCC, Bruce H. Bergen, chair of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Bill Emmitt, co-chair of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church Tree Committee, Bruce McArthur, the Bernards Township Administrator, and Ombrello. The ceremony was introduced and hosted by Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin, president of the college.

“Christopher Colombus was doing his thing when the tree was a sapling,” Richel said of the original oak tree. “It’s hard to believe. It’s hard to believe all the history of this great country has taken place while this tree has grown.”

In his speech, Ombrello revealed that he has another sapling from the original tree in his nursery, which he intends to nurture and plant in the place of its sibling within the next two years.

“It was a great ceremony,” said Pablo Benavides, president of UCC’s student government association. “I’m glad that so many faculty and staff members attended and that I got to be here for this.”

According to Ombrello, it’s possible for the second-generation tree to last as long and grow as wide as its parent.

“It’s certainly possible,” Ombrello said, when asked if the original oak tree could become a grandparent. “But typically, that will be decades away. Oak trees don’t reproduce early in life.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Linden Man Arrested After Explosion in Cranford

June 22, 2018

CRANFORD, NJ — An explosion heard in Cranford Wednesday has led to the arrest of 26-year old Michael Kossup of Linden, NJ, according to authorities. Kossup has been charged with Possession of Prohibited Destructive Devices (3rd Degree); Possession of Under 50g (Marijuana); and Possession of Paraphernalia. 

On Wednesday, June 20, 2018 ...

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting on June 19

June 22, 2018

I opened the Board meeting on a somber note, announcing the death of sophomore student Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel.  Words cannot convey the grief we feel in the Westfield Public Schools community over his death.  We extend our condolences to the Uziel family.  I noted that school counselors are available for all students or staff who may wish to discuss their feelings ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Between Park Street and Washington Street, Westfield

Walking Tour: What Makes a Great House and ...

Home & Garden

Carousel_image_f442011d67fefc1cb5a2_spb-4937_newsletter_june_23

Sat, June 23, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...

Sports

Carousel_image_0261cd4c5700fd63e54b_spb-4937_newsletter_june_24

Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...

Sports

Westfield Police Blotter: Criminal Mischief to Vehicles Continues & More

June 20, 2018

June 13, 2018 9:24 a.m.

Officer Santangelo arrested Hakan Kaya, age 46, of Westfield, New Jersey on an outstanding warrant (#E19490) in the amount of $304.00 out of Neptune City Municipal Court pursuant to turning himself in at WPD Headquarters. Subject was processed and released after posting the full bail amount.

 

June 13, 2018 11:02 a.m.

Lieutenant McFarlean and Officer ...

All New Blue Jean Ball Fights Hunger with Style

June 23, 2018

The Community FoodBank of New Jersey held its All New Blue Jean Ball on Saturday, June 16 at the Central Railroad Terminal in Liberty State Park. Historically a low-key affair, the annual gala was revamped, reimagined, and reinvigorated this year with a sophisticated style that drew 465 guests, whose generous donations raised more than $1.1 million to benefit the FoodBank’s hunger relief ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...

'Half Time' delivers with sterling cast

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other talents.

The musical centers on an effort to have seniors perform a dance number during ...

Let's Talk About Suicide

In our world today, it seems our children, no matter the town, state, education, family unit, socioeconomic background, ethnicity or religion are grappling with complex, confounding and complicated issues not even fit for a middle-aged adult. Sadly, one of these issues is suicide. With mental health gaining more attention, the stigma appears to be dissipating but when a mental health ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...

Understand the New Law for Paid Sick Leave

Paid sick leave is now the law in New Jersey.

New Jersey has passed a paid sick leave law which preempts paid sick leave ordinances adopted by several cities and towns so there is now one uniform law in this area for New Jersey employers. Here is what you need to know about the new law.

33 Homes Sold June 10 to June 17 in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Thirty-three Homes sold from June 10 to June 17, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Cranford and Mountainside.*

 

TOWN         ADDRESS                      STYLE    ...

Westfield 3rd Graders Receive Top Honors at Mock Trial Competition

Westfield third graders recently received top honors for three mock court cases they presented at the New Jersey Bar Foundation Law Fair.

“I am proud that, out of 84 entries submitted, our third grade students (now fourth graders) in the Gifted Program have won 1st Place, 2nd Place and Honorable Mention in the 3rd Grade category [of the Law Fair ...

Maximizing Your Portfolio’s Returns -- Beware the Taxman

The old adage in the investment world is that it is not what you make, but what you keep that counts.  Investors often overlook the ultimate deflator of portfolio returns – the taxman. An astute global asset allocation should be the number one priority for investors.  However, there are preferred ways to distribute this asset allocation over the spectrum of taxable and ...

Greatness

In honor of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's (of righteous memory) 24th  Yahrtzeit (anniversary of his passing) this coming Saturday the 16th.

Excerpts from an address given by Nobel-laureate Elie Wiesel on April 7, 1992, at a congressional dinner held in Washington on the occasion of the Rebbe's 90th birthday.

Some of you are aware of my admiration, not only ...

Healthy U Spring Symposium Marks 10 Years of Community Impact

WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 100 Healthy U champions and partners from YMCAs and schools from all over the state gathered at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on May 18 to celebrate 10 years of community impact. Healthy U was also formally presented with the 2017 CATCH® Award for Excellence in State Health. 

CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is the ...

Bridgewater Mall Shut Down for 2 Hours After Fight Breaks Out

June 14, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported after a fight involving a crowd of people shut down the Bridgewater Commons Mall for two hours Thursday evening.

According to a Nixle alert from the Bridgewater Township Police Department at 9 p.m., the investigation at the mall has been completed, and the mall was resuming normal business operations.

According to Somerset County ...

Obituaries

Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more