Landmark Coming Down
Feb 4, 2011 by Blake Giles, Oconee Enterprise
One of the oak trees that has stood sentinel at the Oconee County Courthouse for probably 50 years is coming down this weekend.
The oak tree closest to Court Street will be cut down this weekend, said Marvin Poe, Oconee County operations director.
County Extension Director Henry Hibbs said that the Shumard oak is diseased, pointing to beetle hole in the trunk.
“They know this tree is dying,” he said.
Scattered underneath the tree were small limbs that had fallen off.
At a glance, the tree still looks imposing, but a more careful look shows that it has a more scraggly appearance than its twin on the opposite side of the front lawn of the courthouse.
“No one really knows the origin of these trees,” said Hibbs. “We don’t know if someone gave this tree to the county or what.”
The age of the tree is an estimate, one that will be confirmed only after the tree has been cut down.
That is scheduled to take place this weekend when the courthouse is closed.
Poe said that it would come down in pieces.
Select Trees Sustainable Trust has agreed to give the county a tree to plant in its place. The Oconee firm, which has pledged hundreds of trees to the University of Georgia, told the county it wanted to plant a scarlet oak in the ground by February to give the roots a good opportunity to get established before the summer comes, setting up the timetable for the removal of the diseased tree.
Poe said that the new tree would be a few feet closer to the courthouse, further from the sidewalks. Hibbs explained that such a location would constrict the root ball less.
Hibbs speculated that the recent dry summers stressed the sick tree.
Fortunately, its twin to the north remains healthy, boasting a full crown.