The Transylvania Times -

By Derek McKissock
News Editor 

Official: No Decision On Courthouse Tree - Brevard, NC


April 12, 2018

Derek McKissock

The county is planning to make repairs to the courthouse bell tower, with the fate of the spruce tree unclear.

No decision has been made yet on the fate of the large Norwegian spruce tree that sits in front of the courthouse in downtown Brevard, according to County Manager Jaime Laughter.

"We are working on a project to secure the courthouse bell tower," Laughter said Tuesday. "As part of that work, we must evaluate access to safely conduct the work and, while doing so, are also evaluating the landscaping.

"We know some landscaping will need to come out in order to access with scaffolding and equipment necessary to do the work. We have contractors, including landscaping and arborist professionals, who are working on this project to determine how best to address both achieving the work and the long-term health of the existing and future landscaping options."

There is a "possibility" the tree will be impacted, however, Laughter noted.

"We will have to see the result of those evaluations before a decision can be made," she said.

Laughter was reached for comment about the tree after concerns were raised about it during Tuesday's regular Board of Commissioners' meeting.

During the meeting's public comment period, John Wayne Hardison, owner of High Country Tree Services, spoke.

He said a county employee, whom he didn't name, had told him the tree could be coming down. Rumors about the tree coming down have started to swirl in the community, also.

Hardison said he also spoke to Laughter prior to the meeting about the tree.

He doesn't believe there are "valid" reasons to tear it down.

As far as the tree's health, Hardison said it is "one of the healthiest trees in the county."

A concern for an "untrained person," he said, may be the dead wood in the tree's interior but that is only because they are "shaded out" from the sun.

Hardison said the tree "says," "it's a waste of my energy to have foliage in the inside of this tree, where it's not getting any sunlight."

Spruces are susceptible to "needlecast" – a pathogen, Hardison said, but the tree has "very little" on it.

As far as setting up scaffolding for construction, he said standard scaffolding sites are 5 feet wide. No part of the tree's foliage is within 7-and-a-half feet of the building, Hardison said.

"Maybe it makes someone's job a little easier to take the tree out to do the construction," he said.

Hardison offered to "volunteer" his company's services to help save the tree.

For several years, High Country Tree Services has volunteered its time to put up the decorations prior to the Christmas holiday season in downtown. On Tuesday, Hardison said his business was willing to do the same for the county for the spruce tree.


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