Fake tree becomes real issue

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Augusta commissioners might soon be considered the grinches who stole the city's traditional Christmas tree.

Augusta commissioners are debating whether to save money by purchasing an artificial Christmas tree for use at Augusta Common.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Augusta commissioners are debating whether to save money by purchasing an artificial Christmas tree for use at Augusta Common.

At a commission committee meeting Tuesday, City Administrator Fred Russell proposed that the city purchase a 35-foot manufactured tree for the annual tree lighting at Augusta Common, instead of buying a live tree each year. Commissioners voted to delay purchasing the $26,845 artificial tree until photographs are available.

"Fiscally, we should approve this purchase, though we recognize that the tradition is having a real one," Mr. Russell said in the committee meeting.

Purchasing a live tree costs the city $14,000 to $16,000 each year, Mr. Russell said.

The cost includes locating, harvesting, transporting, erecting and decorating the tree, said Rick Acree, the assistant director of Augusta's Public Services Department. More than 75 percent of the cost is for transporting the tree from the mountains of North Carolina to downtown Augusta, Mr. Acree said. Lighting the tree with incandescent lights is also costly, he said.

If the commissioners decide to purchase the artificial tree, energy-saving LED lights would be used, and the decorated tree would be transported from Syracuse, N.Y., Mr. Acree said.

Commissioner Corey Johnson said the money saved using a realistic-looking artificial tree could go toward other city events.

"I'd like to see us do more for New Year's," he said. "We can spend our dollars on that."

Commissioner Betty Beard said the city's tradition should not be broken for the sake of saving money.

"Christmas is very, very important to all of us," she said. "Everybody needs to know what a fresh tree looks like, and that's at the Commons."

Ms. Beard suggested that the commissioners conduct a survey of what kind of tree residents would prefer.

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

WILL THEY RUIN CHRISTMAS?


Tell us what you think. Should Augusta save money by putting an artificial tree on display this Christmas? Vote in our online poll.

Comments (64) Add comment
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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 05/28/08 - 04:37 am
0
0
When there was no option, a

When there was no option, a fresh cut tree was a treat. Now, the city can afford the one time expense of an artificial tree much better then the ongoing expense of a "real" tree. The artificial tree would be the wise and fiscally responsible way to go.

NEone
6
Points
NEone 05/28/08 - 04:39 am
0
0
"Everybody needs to know what

"Everybody needs to know what a fresh tree looks like, and that's at the Commons." Huh? Who doesn't know what a fresh tree looks like? And who made it the city's responsibility to educate the people on this non-issue?

NEone
6
Points
NEone 05/28/08 - 04:43 am
0
0
"Everybody needs to know what

"Everybody needs to know what a fresh tree looks like, and that's at the Commons." Huh? Who doesn't know what a fresh tree looks like? And who made it the city's responsibility to educate the people on this non-issue?

catfish20
294
Points
catfish20 05/28/08 - 04:51 am
0
0
I can't believe the city

I can't believe the city would even entertain the idea of a fake Christmas tree. The tree last year at the commons was absolutely beautiful. Keep it real....please!!!!!

PTHS2
0
Points
PTHS2 05/28/08 - 04:59 am
0
0
The only problem is that pine

The only problem is that pine trees and evergreens don't grow in Georgia ;-)

elizaw
8
Points
elizaw 05/28/08 - 05:26 am
0
0
If it means to save some

If it means to save some money, go for it.

i.b.e.w..electric
0
Points
i.b.e.w..electric 05/28/08 - 05:31 am
0
0
they will grow in ga. and

they will grow in ga. and that is the answer ,buy a large evergreen and plant it at the commons ,it will be there for our enjoyment for years to come

Interested Citizen
0
Points
Interested Citizen 05/28/08 - 05:34 am
0
0
Is Syracuse, NY the nearest

Is Syracuse, NY the nearest place that has an artificial tree?????And also, is NC the only place to get a large, fresh, Christmas tree? Does it have to be perfect????

christian134
1
Points
christian134 05/28/08 - 05:36 am
0
0
Stop cutting down all the

Stop cutting down all the trees in and around Augusta and children will have a chance to see what real trees look and feel like. The artificial tree idea seems like a money saving idea to me......

Interested Citizen
0
Points
Interested Citizen 05/28/08 - 05:41 am
0
0
Is Syracuse, NY the nearest

Is Syracuse, NY the nearest place that has an artificial tree?????And also, is NC the only place to get a large, fresh, Christmas tree? Does it have to be perfect????

captainscott
0
Points
captainscott 05/28/08 - 05:47 am
0
0
Any nut that would pay nearly

Any nut that would pay nearly $10,000 to have a single tree sent from NC deserves what they get. I work in the office for a trucking company, and have access to shipping costs. Trust me, it can be done for a fraction of that cost. I could have one flown from England for less than that ( honest). To whomever is responsible for purchasing the tree each year: enter your contact info on this forum, and I'll call you.

We should keep a live tree. Already at Christmastime, the downtown merchants have had to kick in to decorate the Broad St area, because the city was too cheap. Want to save enough money to pay for the tree? Tell the commission to stop taking those idiotic "seminars" in Hawaii and elsewhere. We certainly haven't gotten any "bang for our buck" from those fiascos.

Interested Citizen
0
Points
Interested Citizen 05/28/08 - 06:01 am
0
0
Amen, captainscott!!!!!!!

Amen, captainscott!!!!!!!

shivas
2
Points
shivas 05/28/08 - 06:12 am
0
0
It's a Holiday Tree, stupid!

It's a Holiday Tree, stupid!

PAW
0
Points
PAW 05/28/08 - 06:14 am
0
0
It's just a stupid tree!!!!

It's just a stupid tree!!!! There are more things to concern yourself about. 1. The true meaning of christmas............Or are all you tree huggers athiest

dani
13
Points
dani 05/28/08 - 06:15 am
0
0
Buy an artificial tree, use

Buy an artificial tree, use it once, store it away and then forget about it?

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 05/28/08 - 06:25 am
0
0
Maybe Fred Russell sells

Maybe Fred Russell sells artificial trees via his side business. Where is Marion Williams when we need him to check a hard drive?

lezniack01
0
Points
lezniack01 05/28/08 - 06:28 am
0
0
CRAP!! For that much money

CRAP!! For that much money how about no tree of this size. Use a smaller tree and put the rest into things we actually need!

ITDoc
1
Points
ITDoc 05/28/08 - 06:36 am
0
0
C'mon, these are RC

C'mon, these are RC Commissioners. They'll buy a fake tree, use it one year, it'll get damaged when attempting to store it, someone will break in to the storage area and vandalize it. Then the RC taxpayer will pay to maintain and repair it. Buy a real one and plant it if you want to save money.

ITDoc
1
Points
ITDoc 05/28/08 - 06:37 am
0
0
Good mornin y'all.

Good mornin y'all.

nerthus
2
Points
nerthus 05/28/08 - 06:48 am
0
0
I am not a fan of fake

I am not a fan of fake Christmas trees; howevere, the savings is huge. Go with the fake tree just make sure it is a very good one at that price.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 05/28/08 - 06:50 am
0
0
Whatever tree they decide on.

Whatever tree they decide on. We need to appoint Dave Barbee to trim it.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 05/28/08 - 06:53 am
0
0
Fred wants to spend 20

Fred wants to spend 20 million as a down payment on a baseball stadium. Fred wants to spend 50 million to buy a lot with a dilapidated shopping mall on it. Now Fred (What, me worry?) tries to fool us that he's concerned about a few thousand? Get real. Fred is playing with the commissioners. It's sport to him. Look at the smirk on his face when he talks to George Eskola.

aaa
2
Points
aaa 05/28/08 - 07:20 am
0
0
I am sure a local nursery or

I am sure a local nursery or pro landscaper can help Augusta find a beautiful evergreen that can be planted and enjoyed year after year. No need to buy a fake.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 05/28/08 - 07:29 am
0
0
Buy a large real one and have

Buy a large real one and have it trucked here like the Augusta National does and plant it downtown to use over and over.

Newsreader
11
Points
Newsreader 05/28/08 - 07:30 am
0
0
I do believe that trees grow

I do believe that trees grow in downtown Augusta, why not buy a real tree and have it planted in the common, then there is no problem with storage. Light it with white leds year round. Or change the leds to red, white, and blue for Memorial Day and 4th of July. If we started with a 15 to 18 foot tree, it would continue to grow and the new tradition could be guessing the new height each year.

DeborahElliott2
4
Points
DeborahElliott2 05/28/08 - 07:39 am
0
0
I agree that if the tree is

I agree that if the tree is to be live, it must be Planted and Rooted! If the city cannot do this, then an artificial tree will do so long as they have thought about the storage situation so as to Reduce the costs, Not Increase Costs!

Itll be alright
0
Points
Itll be alright 05/28/08 - 07:42 am
0
0
Oh Christmas Tree, Ohhh

Oh Christmas Tree, Ohhh Christmas Tree............

Safe at Home
0
Points
Safe at Home 05/28/08 - 07:44 am
0
0
What happens when vandalls

What happens when vandalls destroy the "fake" tree? All that money will be wasted. Plant a real tree and water it...good for a lifetime of enjoyment. But that would be common sense...the Richmond County Leaders don't have much of that...maybe Santa will bring them some brains.

pointstoponder
612
Points
pointstoponder 05/28/08 - 07:46 am
0
0
Planting a live tree would

Planting a live tree would prevent use of that end of the common for events the rest of the year. IIRC, they frequently set up a stage where the tree is set up.

GuyIncognito
1
Points
GuyIncognito 05/28/08 - 07:46 am
0
0
Hooray for fiscal

Hooray for fiscal responsibility!

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