The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 31, 2013

County Commission taking long shot on short Christmas tree

By Karen Middleton

— A proposed move by the Limestone County Commission could reverse a years-long holiday tradition.

Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee said in a Wednesday work session it is no longer cost-effective to have someone haul in an 18-to-20-foot Christmas tree to the courthouse lawn.

He says he recommends planting a 5-to-6-foot live tree and watching it grow for years of future savings and enhanced landscaping.

“I’ve had Doug Chapman (Extension Service horticulturalist) out looking for a tree,” said Menefee. “He found a 18-to-20-foot tree like we usually have, but with these (pre-cut) trees, there’s only a 75 percent chance they will stay fresh through Christmas.

“We found a fellow in Nashville to haul it in, but it would cost $1,800.”

Menefee said the alternative was a fresh tree with a root ball that could be transplanted on the courthouse lawn.

“It’s better to set one in instead of having a dead tree,” he said. “They will grow about a foot or better a year.”

Spirit of Athens Director Trisha Black, who spearheads several events on The Square was noncommittal on the change.

“I can't comment because I don't know what type of tree or specific location is being proposed for the courthouse lawn,” said Black. “Trees can add charm and create an inviting atmosphere for the district when the appropriate streetscape trees are selected.”

Other business

On Wednesday, the commission also accepted a $10,000 grant from the Alabama Mountains, Rivers & Valleys of the Resource Conservation & Development Council to be applied to the upgrading of the front of the Goodsprings Senior Center.

Menefee said the grant was “the last hurdle” toward having enough to build a canopy on the front.

The commission also approved the low bid of Thompson Trailer Co. at $129,600 for an asphalt paver. County Engineer Richard Sanders said the vendor did not meet all specifications exactly, but the county attorney said the differences were “minor” and it the bid would be accepted.

Commissioners suspended rules and voted to accept another low bid of $558,000 from EMW Construction for renovations to the old Better Living building off South Jefferson Street as a temporary courthouse while renovations to the main courthouse are completed.

Menefee also presented a retirement certificate to Derrick McGlocklin, who has worked for the County Commission since 1986. He retired from the Engineering Department as herbicide director.

The commission will meet in regular session at 10 a.m. Monday at the Clinton Street Courthouse Annex. These business items will be on the agenda:

• Retirement recognition for Kevin Veibert;

• Limestone County superintendent of education will ask for the dedication of a road at Tanner High School in recognition of the school’s championship team;

• Merit increase for License Tag Clerk Sharon Wilson;

• Consideration of purchasing an asphalt zipper;

• Purchase of property at 1406 Wheeler St. adjacent to the Limestone County Correction Center at a cost of $22,500;

• Approval for re-roofing the board of education building on South Jefferson Street by Quality Architectural & Roofing at a cost of $49,970;

• Approval to reimbuse Ranona Siebert of the Resource, Conservation & Development Council for a room deposit that District 3 Commissioner Bill Latimer had to cancel because of illness;

• Transferal of these inventory items from the IT office to EMA: Thinkpad and Replicator; Dock D002; and case, batteries and chargers; and

• Approval for District 4 resident Keith Williams to run a water line under Pope Road.