MERCER CO. Housing plan sure to make bluebirds sing

MERCER, Pa. -- The bluebird population in Mercer County is getting some housing assistance from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and students at the Mercer County Career Center.
Ed Kerr and his carpentry students at the vo-tech school built bluebird boxes for the county, and PennDOT maintenance employees from the Mercer office are installing them around the county.
The PennDOT workers also supplied the materials.
Some sites: The Interstate 80 East Welcome Center in Shenango Township, the rest areas on both northbound and southbound Interstate 79 and PennDOT stockpile locations are all getting the boxes.
"The community service and partnership developed through this joint project will have a lasting effect on my students," Kerr said. "This project will benefit the citizens of the entire county."
Some of the boxes will also be donated to an ongoing project that the Mercer PennDOT maintenance office on Maple Drive has developed with the nearby Mercer Elementary School.
The PennDOT office and the school teamed up last year to beautify the buffer area between them, and the bluebird boxes will be added to the perennial flower bed already in place, said Ken Pochatko, PennDOT assistant manager for Mercer County.
Idea spreads: The project is already spreading beyond the county.
Jack Baker, district engineer for the six-county PennDOT engineering district in northwest Pennsylvania, said the PennDOT Green TEEM (Transportation Employees for Environmental Management), a group of environmentally conscious employees in the district, has decided to take it into Crawford, Venango, Erie, Forest and Warren counties as well.

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