Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Township Council Pines for Tree Solution

If the electric company cuts down a tree in the township and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

The Onoyoko township board certainly did Tuesday night, as they discussed the right to cut down trees with the community affairs official for IMP (Indiana Michigan Power). It wouldn’t be going out on a limb to say that several council members are barking mad at the company’s tree trimming and removal procedures.

IMP’s community affairs officer Harry Palms was caught off guard at the monthly meeting, as questions many residents and township council members threw his way left him looking stumped and a bit like a sap. He defended his company’s program, insisting that careful tree trimming and removal is both necessary and crucial in serving over a hundred thousand customers who swamp the phone lines every time their microwave’s clock needs to be reset. Citing an example of another such inconvenience, Palm explained, “We recently removed a tree whose roots had intertwined with the village’s new sewer system. Boy was that a son of a birch to pull out of the ground.”

Clerk Sue Frettin said that before IMP trims any more trees, she wants to see the township's original agreement and review each situation tree by tree. She also wants property owners notified of the fate of their trees. Trustee Dorothy Hildecrust also offered to review what trees are being targeted by those she called, “heartless tree butchers.” Both women even demanded that all work be halted until these prickly issues are resolved.

Going against the grain, Supervisor Hildecrust defended IMP’s right to trim and remove trees that obstruct the electrical lines that power his freezers full of peaches. Others on the council agreed that trees are nice, but not if their children can’t play X-box.

But Frettin and Dot Hildecrust, the splinter group of the council, insisted that most of the power outages they’ve experienced have been due to malfunctioning transformers and not obstructive tree limbs. Furthermore, they added, tree surgery is ugly and detracts from the value of one’s home, not to mention the sense of ambience to one’s property. Resident Helen Damnaschion reported that one of her trees was “as ugly as Chelsea Clinton” after IMP got done with it. Palms explained that sometimes trees are trimmed differently if they’re unhealthy.

“It wasn’t ill,” insisted Damnaschion. “It was just a little sycamore.”

Palms again insisted that most of the public doesn’t give a fig about ambience or the fact that trees emit valuable oxygen into the earth’s atmosphere. “The public’s right to electricity trumps their right to live healthier and happier lives,” he said, although his views weren’t at all poplar with the audience.

“When it comes to the power business, trees can be a real pain in the ash,” he said, ignoring the subsequent boos from the crowd.

“You can have our trees when you rip them from our cold, dead limbs!” yelled out an unidentified wrinkled man, swinging his cane like it was a Louisville Slugger.

Faced with such an angry crowd, Palms reluctantly agreed to consider each case tree by tree, notifying property owners, renters, and whomever else might be affected by the loss of the tree in question. But he noted that once the electricity goes out in those areas where limbs are left untouched, he doesn’t expect to hear any complaints about the loss of power.

“If you don’t have lights and come crying to us, you’ll be barking up the wrong… well, you know...” he said.

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