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Bath lauds forestry advocate as year's top citizen

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Bath lauds forestry advocate as year's top citizen

BATH — A longtime resident who helped start the city's Forestry Committee 20 years ago and spent time working with students with multiple challenges was named Citizen of the Year on Oct. 6.

Geraldine "Gerry" Coombs said Wednesday that she had not expected the honor, noting that there are many people in Bath who volunteer, "but I appreciated it."

Awards were also presented for community spirit, a community project, and to a Bath youth during the city's 14th annual Citizen Involvement Day celebration, held at Waterfront Park as part of Autumnfest.

Coombs worked with Denis Hebert, former Parks Department director, to establish the Forestry Committee in 1992. She offered expansive knowledge of the city's trees, soils and topography, according to information provided by the city. She also worked for the renovation of Druid Park at 1 Oak Grove Ave., and remains a steward of that park after her retirement last month from the Forestry Committee.

Coombs' efforts have helped Bath earn the Tree City USA Community status for the past 15 years.

She also worked with students in a Title 1 reading program in Bath, and with youths with multiple challenges in Brunswick. Coombs has also served her community through organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Literacy Volunteers and the Soup Kitchen.

Wiebke Theodore earned the Community Spirit Award, and the Community Project Award went to the Bath Freight Shed Alliance.

According to the city, Theodore presented a vision of how to preserve Bath's last remaining 19th century waterfront freight shed, and to provide a downtown hub for community activity and non-profit organizations. Her vision bloomed into the alliance, which includes arts groups, the Bath Farmers Market, Maine's First Ship, Regional School Unit 1, the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust and Main Street Bath.

Donations have funded revitalization of the building.

Kyle Hietala, a member of Morse High School's Class of 2014, received the Youth Award. He restarted the debate team and was one of the founding members of The Morse Tribune, the school's online newspaper. He also developed and has led a mentoring program for elementary and middle school students in RSU 1.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.