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Commissioners question aggressive chopping of county Christmas tree
Commissioners question aggressive chopping of county Christmas tree

Some don't like the way the county's Christmas tree was trimmed just days before Christmas on the Square.
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (Nov. 30, 2009) — Cell phones, wine bottles and knives.

Those are just some of the items found during the weekend under an evergreen tree or stuck in its branches near the Old Courthouse Museum that is sometimes known as the “County Christmas tree.”

“I guess some of the people on their way to court knew they couldn’t have those things, so they just threw them into the tree and never came back to pick them up,” said Bill Farnham, the eastern district commissioner who is currently serving as presiding commissioner until Gov. Jay Nixon appoints a replacement for Bill Ransdall, who resigned to accept an appointment to the Missouri State Tax Commission.

Commissioners said during Monday morning’s meeting that the tree, which has traditionally been trimmed with lights by Waynesville volunteers in preparation for the “Christmas on the Square” event that showcases downtown Waynesville businesses on the first Thursday of December, has been aggressively trimmed. Some like the work; others have complained.

Regardless of what people think about the work, Courthouse Museum curator Marge Scott said there’s no going back since the branches cut from the bottom of the tree won’t regrow.

“It looks terrible in my opinion,” Scott said. “The historical society, in the midst of summer, thought it would be nice to have it cut maybe four or five feet off the ground, nothing ever happened, and then yesterday I went down to put up the Christmas lights and my heart sank. It has to be at least 10 feet off the ground, and the top was cut off, too.”

It’s not yet clear whether an attempt will be made to put up Christmas lights on the remaining portion of the tree.

“It was the city that draped the lights on the tree, and then they hooked into our county electricity at the courthouse. I’m thinking that if anyone wants to do anything for Christmas, maybe they could make big giant gift boxes and put them under the tree, but I don’t know how even that would look like,” Scott said.

Scott said the evergreen tree was planted many years ago with the intention having a decorated Christmas tree for the holidays.

“It got too big for them and it got out of hand,” Scott said. “We asked (the county landscaper) to cut it maybe four feet, but I didn’t expect him to go that high.”

Scott said that in her opinion, the tree has been ruined and isn’t worth saving since the lower branches won’t grow back, but she said a decision on cutting down the tree should wait until downtown business owners have the opportunity to voice their views.

Whether they want it or not, business owners around the courthouse square will have thousands of patrons see the tree in just a few days when the Christmas on the Square event begins in just three days, bringing many people downtown to the courthouse square to see businesses that stay open extra hours to serve patrons and help many of them being their Christmas shopping season.

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