published Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Rhea County courthouse trees to be trimmed

Thirty-seven trees that surround the historic Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, Tenn., will undergo trimming and preventive maintenance soon to help ensure their longevity and survival, said John Thomason, a certified arborist with ABC Tree Service.
Photo by Kimberly McMillian
Thirty-seven trees that surround the historic Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, Tenn., will undergo trimming and preventive maintenance soon to help ensure their longevity and survival, said John Thomason, a certified arborist with ABC Tree Service. Photo by Kimberly McMillian

DAYTON, Tenn. — Preventive measures to ensure the health and longevity of the 37 trees surrounding the historic Rhea County Courthouse in downtown Dayton will begin in November, officials said.

Arborist John Thomason, with ABC Tree Service in Harrison, said removing dead wood is key to preventing disease in the aging oak, maple, ash and dogwood trees.

"Proper pruning reduces the wind pressure" that can cause problems, especially with trees more than 40 feet tall, Thomason said.

He said the installation of galvanized steel cables, bolted into the trees horizontally in their upper canopies, would stabilize them against strong winds for up to 20 years.

An initial study by a tree specialist in 2005 concluded that the courthouse trees would require preventive maintenance, and MainStreet Dayton officials helped compile a list reflecting the work that would be required.

In April, MainStreet Dayton's design committee met with County Executive George Thacker, representatives of the city and the county and the Rhea County Historical and Genealogical Society. They agreed as a priority to schedule the maintenance later this year.

In May, a nearly 120-year-old tree was felled by storm winds. The tree was one of the first planted after the courthouse was built in 1891, historical society Chairman Tom Davis said.

Proper care might have prevented the tree's death, he said.

Thomason said periodic inspections will be scheduled.

Kerry Nabors, chairman of the MainStreet Dayton design panel, said Courthouse Square Revitalization grant money will fund the $30,000 improvements.

The preservation work should begin about Nov. 5 and will continue for up to 15 days, Nabors said.

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