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No Longer A Tree City

I share the sense of outrage Barnie O’Quinn expresses this week in his column at the bottom of this page.

There were a lot of people in the Ward I area who, for years, have wanted the 200-plus-year-old oak tree next to Dairy Queen trimmed back (or, as Barnie says “butchered”) so a traffic light can be installed. Those people meant well but they are mistaken if they think a traffic light will improve safety at the intersection.

Several years ago, when it was first proposed to put up a traffic light there, a traffic engineer was quoted as saying that, in some ways, the intersection would be more dangerous with a traffic light there.

I agreed with him.

Mayor Bayne Stone said at the time, “Oh, you’d only have to trim back two or three limbs. You won’t  even be able to tell it’s been cut.”

I knew the Mayor was wrong and he’s proved he was wrong by directing city workers to severely trim the stately old oak, devastating its appearance.

I, like Barnie, remember well when Highway 341 on Jarman Street was widened to a four lane. Before the widening, Jarman Street was lined by some beautiful old oak trees, creating a scenic vista that greeted visitors to our community.

But to widen the road, some trees had to go. Rather than cut down trees on both sides of the road, the widening was directed on only one side, making great efforts to save as many of the beautiful trees as they could.

Our community at that time had leadership that knew the value of ages-old trees.

Trees reduce energy costs, clean the air and produce oxygen, add value to retail areas by making them more attractive, screen noise and undesirable views, attract wildlife, slow runoff and prevent erosion.

At one time Hazlehurst had the proud designation as a Tree City. Obviously, it’s not one today.

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