The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 18, 2013

Tree removal on horizon

Commission to consider local tree-removal quote

By Kim West
kwest@athensnews-courier.com

ATHENS — The Limestone County Commission will consider accepting an estimate to remove a pair of Atlas cedar trees during its regular meeting Tuesday.

Adams & Son Tree Trimming & Removal quoted a $4,400 price to remove deteriorating cedars on the east and west sides of the Limestone County Courthouse in the coming weeks.

Six businesses were contacted and three submitted price proposals, including Dixieland Tree Service for $5,050 and James Paul’s Tree Service for $5,500. All three businesses are located in Athens.

Owner Ricky Adams described the impending tree removal as “history in the making.” He said he understands the public sentiment for keeping the trees intact but believes it’s a matter of time before a dropping limb injures someone.

“I know a lot of people hate to see them go, but I believe this is truly in the interest of the people living in Athens,” said Adams, whose father Mike opened Adams & Son more than 40 years ago. “In my opinion, this is an accident waiting to happen. I hate for the trees go, too, and I (quoted low) to help. This is why I like doing this — to help protect folks and places.

“My plan, if they approve me to do the job, is to work on Saturdays to avoid causing interruptions at the courthouse.”

The quote includes site clean-up, debris removal, stump grinding and leveling the stumps to the ground. Adams said the project would take two to four Saturdays to complete, depending on the ground conditions.

“The worst problem is the ground being saturated,” Adams said. “Just to be on the safe side, I would say it could take up to four days to finish.”

During the Nov. 5 County Commission meeting, Chairman Stanley Menefee said he planned to solicit tree removal estimates on behalf of the commission despite the protests of citizens seeking to keep the trees. He described the trees as a safety problem and a potential liability.

The east-side cedar dropped four limbs in August 2012, including two 16-inch to 18-inch thick branches, and the west-side tree also is deteriorating. The trees were planted 80 to 90 years ago, according to Doug Chapman of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Both Chapman and Joe Eakes, professor of horticulture at  Auburn University, have recommended removing the trees, which are true cedars that grow in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco in Africa and are more commonly found in the U.S. in the Pacific Northwest.

The commission will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Clinton Street annex instead of Monday due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. The annual MLK Day march will begin at 9 a.m. at the courthouse and finish at the Limestone County Event Center on Pryor Street.