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Let's tree what we can do

County keen to solve issue of dying trees in front of courthouse

The county commissioners are keen to solve the issue of the dying trees in front of the courthouse. No resolution was reached earlier this month when Facilities Maintenance Supervisor Larry Schommer approached the Sundance City Council to find out who is responsible for maintaining and replacing them.

Schommer told the commissioners last week that it would cost between $400 and $900 to treat the one fruit tree that is certainly going to die from blight without intervention. After finding this out, he said, he spoke with Mayor Paul Brooks and the “conversation was good”.

He then spoke to Public Works Director Mac Erickson, knowing that the American Forestry arborist who visited town a couple of weeks ago had also inspected other trees in the city and hoping to collaborate on a solution. He was invited to attend the council’s work session to join in the conversation.

However, said Schommer, things did not go as expected. He said he felt the mayor “was wanting to argue with me” and responded to a query on who would pay for the tree replacement by asking him to leave.

“I wasn’t arguing, I was asking a question,” Schommer told the commission.

Commissioner Fred Devish stated that, through happenstance, he has since had opportunity to speak with Council Member Joe Wilson, who agreed that Schommer had not been out of line and said he would follow up on the matter.

The unexpectedly contentious nature of the issue has not deterred the commission from wishing to find a quick solution, rather than leave empty spots where trees once stood at the front of the building. New trees, however, are not necessarily the most favorable option, particularly as blight causes the roots of trees to become acidic and spoils the soil, which could prevent replacement trees from thriving.

Devish, for instance, said he loves trees but they can make parking harder, and therefore he was thinking of removable statues that can be taken inside during snow-plow season. Commissioner Kelly Dennis agreed that this or large, removable planters could be “less maintenance”.

“This is all stuff that’s in flux,” Devish said. “…We’re not against having something that looks nice – but functional, maybe, too.”

Devish suggested looking into potential beautification grants through WYDOT. Schommer responded that he has noticed seven or eight other spots around town in which the trees have yet to be replaced and said he would like to know first what the city’s plan is.

Whatever the answer, Schommer said he will do his best to pursue the issue aggressively, with the goal of making sure the front of the courthouse continues to look its best.

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