BILLINGS — It’s pretty unusual to find half of the tree service companies in Billings gathered in one location, working on the same project.
But that’s exactly what happened Wednesday at Mountview Cemetery , where many come to honor and remember veterans.
“Obviously, we want to honor veterans. We want to honor folks that have fought for us, died for us, and this is their final resting place," said Mike Nezworski, the owner of CM Tree Service and Removal, on Wednesday. "My grandfather’s a veteran, buried in a cemetery in Michigan. Obviously, we want to honor people like that.”
On Wednesday, dozens gathered at the Billings cemetery, located at 1704 Central Ave., not to mourn, but to give back.
"We kind of have a motto, go big or go home. And so we go big. We really wanted to make an impact," said Chandra Brown, the business operations manager for CM Tree Service and Removal, on Wednesday. "We wanted to have a presence, and we wanted to make sure that the initial showing of Saluting Branches in Billings was something that people were aware of and could get excited for for the next year.”
Roughly 65 arborists from more than half of the tree-trimming companies in Billings joined forces for Saluting Branches.
“Saluting Branches was started nine years ago by a tree company in Minneapolis. Just looking for a way to give back to the veterans and the veterans community," said Brandon Schmidt, the cemeteries supervisor for the city of Billings, on Wednesday. "They’re in 49 states, in Puerto Rico and Mexico this year. I think $15 million worth of services is provided by the arborist community. It’s a pretty cool thing that they started.”
Schmidt said all of the volunteers were in good spirits throughout the day.
“Anytime you can get tree guys around a bunch of trees to cut, they’re happy,” Schmidt said.
The project is now in 49 states and is aimed at beautifying the final resting place of our country’s veterans. The first Billings event was organized by CM Tree Service and Removal, owned by Nezworski.
“So Bryan, my lead arborist from the tree service, he was participating in Saluting Branches in Helena. He asked me if we could start it here in Billings. He sent me the information, and Chandra (Brown) from our office, she contacted Saluting Branches," Nezworski said. "We started it here. We kind of led the charge on getting everybody together.”
For Brown, it's especially personal.
“Veterans in the family, my grandpa and my uncle. Then I was active duty Air Force as a Hydraulics Mechanic for 4 years as well," Brown said. "So super important to my family and me, personally, to be here."
It's a project focused on serving those who served while beautifying Billings.
“CM Tree Service, we try to give back to the community. Any way we can, everywhere we can," Nezworski said. "This was another way for us to give back, to get people together to show support for veterans. And that’s what we’re doing, we’re making it better.”
To learn more about Saluting Branches, click here.
"Thank you. I mean, the volunteers, the city of Billings, all the team at CM Tree Service. There’s a ton of folks out here that are helping," Nezworski said. "It’s really cool to see the community support when there’s an opportunity. I love when we can do stuff like this."