Hemlock Tree Divides Madison Community

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

September 12, 2006

A hemlock tree right in the middle of Madison County is causing a dispute between officials and residents. County officials want the infested tree to be removed. The problem is: some county residents say the tree is worth saving and cutting it down is like cutting down a part of history.

Bobby Tanner has owned the Farmers Service Center right in the heart of Madison County for over 50 years. He often takes a walk to the park next door to sit under the big hemlock tree to get some shade.

"The tree has been in the little square there every since I can remember. They used to decorate it every Christmas for the Christmas tree," said Tanner.

That is why it is so hard for him to let it go. The tree is supposed to be removed as part of the Greater Madison Street Project that will revive the old park.

Not to mention, the tree is infested with the wooly adelgid bug. Experts told county officials it may be necessary to cut it down for safety issues as well.

"It is kind of in the middle of a pretty heavily traveled area and if it were to fall across the road it could do quite a bit of damage. So, we have to make sure we have a sound situation there," said Eddie Dean, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

Right now, county officials are waiting for test results to come back on how bad the infestation really is. If it is minimal, the Board of Supervisors can have the tree treated with chemicals, which may or may not be cheaper than knocking it down.

However, some residents who have signed Tanner's "Save the Hemlock" petition said they would be more than happy to help.

"I've had four or five different people that said if you need money to treat the tree just let them know and they would come up with it," said Tanner.

The tree, Tanner said, is a part of history and he will do whatever it takes to save it.

The Board of Supervisors is not expected to make a final decision until October.


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