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)

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pointstoponder
152
Points
pointstoponder 05/28/08 - 08:49 am
0
0

Captain Scott, if you can

Captain Scott, if you can find a tree, cut it, and transport it (including the special permits for an oversized load) for under $10k, call the city. I'd bet you could earn a finders fee. As for the tree from England, how about some proof.

oldetownbroad
0
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oldetownbroad 05/28/08 - 09:13 am
0
0

Betty Beard should be more

Betty Beard should be more concerned about the pitiful decorations on the two trees in front of the Municipal building. At Christmas they look like a two year old threw lights on the bottom half and ran. Disgraceful.. On second thought, that may be a perfect example of what goes on in the commission chambers.

Unbelievable
64
Points
Unbelievable 05/28/08 - 09:30 am
0
0

I am amazed at how simple the

I am amazed at how simple the solution is and how many people simply dont see it. Plant a real tree and leave it there. Decorate it during the holidays, and then take the decorations off afterwards. We have spent so much money on junk downtown that investing in a single tree should be a no brainer. I cant believe with all the 'smarts' on the commission, and includint the mayor, no one proposed this solution. And dont say that you cant bring in a live tree that big, because I have personally watched a lot of bigger trees trucked into the gates of the Augusta National. Fire the commission and put me in charge. I guarantee the city would be a better, more efficient, place to live in no time. Plus I wouldnt need 100 gallons of gas a month to do my job.

thinktwice
1
Points
thinktwice 05/28/08 - 09:42 am
0
0

If they are going to buy a

If they are going to buy a fake one then they should wait until after Christmas when they go on sale. Now that's a prudent decision.

crazyoldman
21
Points
crazyoldman 05/28/08 - 09:48 am
0
0

$14,000 to $16,000, Hey

$14,000 to $16,000, Hey Augusta, I got a tree or two you can buy..Heck you can have them for half (no no no) a quater of that. Maybe less than that, make me an offer.

Glascock1
0
Points
Glascock1 05/28/08 - 09:57 am
0
0

.Commissioner Corey Johnson

.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."
LOL In the SAME article that saving taxpayer's dollars is being touted,another official is busy trying to find somewhere to spend them......

lisakc
0
Points
lisakc 05/28/08 - 09:59 am
0
0

"buy a large evergreen and

"buy a large evergreen and plant it at the commons ,it will be there for our enjoyment for years to come"

Now THAT'S a good idea. I'm from Augusta but live now in Jellico, TN. Here in Jellico we have a nice large evergreen tree growing in our Veteran's Park downtown. Each Christmas the tree is lit. And during the rest of the year we have a lovely live tree to enjoy.

walk_american
0
Points
walk_american 05/28/08 - 10:18 am
0
0

I would agree with buying a

I would agree with buying a real one to plant but I also think some lowlife would come along late one night and cut it down. That is just the way some jerks are.

TCB22
535
Points
TCB22 05/28/08 - 10:19 am
0
0

One time expense? Really?

One time expense? Really? They will be lucky to get two years out of a fake tree before it looks like heck and needs to be replaced. Terrible idea. Get a smaller, less expensive tree if the cost is an issue...but keep it real.

TCB22
535
Points
TCB22 05/28/08 - 10:31 am
0
0

An artificial tree out in the

An artificial tree out in the weather will only last a couple of years before it starts looking bad. It won't save money in the long run. Plant a tree.

toldya
0
Points
toldya 05/28/08 - 10:58 am
0
0

Can we purchase a very large

Can we purchase a very large tree and plant it in the Commons, wouldn't that save the yearly chunk of money? I don't understand why they are paying soooo much money for a tree every year? The bill must be padded- then dispersed among the greedy. Real Shame.

devilishlymad67
0
Points
devilishlymad67 05/28/08 - 11:02 am
0
0

it is NOT a "holiday tree" it

it is NOT a "holiday tree" it is a CHRISTMAS TREE. Politically correct cr*p from a ____ (fill in the blank)

godogs
0
Points
godogs 05/28/08 - 11:28 am
0
0

I agree that we should think

I agree that we should think about purchasing a plantable tree to be used year after year. However, if that is an option then I think we need to be realistic and purchase the fake tree. How can we look at homeless people sitting around a tree that we selfishly want to be real and knowing maybe some of that money could go to other needs. Trees are great and I think we need one to represent Christmas but it doesn't have to be real. We can make it real by maybe embracing the idea and having a night when the lights are turned on and singing together Christmas carols as we join hands as one community, on both sides of the river. If we all put Christian decorations in our own yards there would be no misunderstand where we stood on Christmas and we wouldn't have anything to gripe about where the city is concerned.

GnipGnop
10947
Points
GnipGnop 05/28/08 - 12:12 pm
0
0

How about this. Get rid of

How about this. Get rid of commisioners free gas...that will save about 5k then take that money and locate a huge tree somewhere on county property and relocate it to the AC. 2 of the counties problems solved in mere minutes!!!

critter
2
Points
critter 05/28/08 - 01:29 pm
0
0

We should just celebrate

We should just celebrate Festivus.....bare aluminum pole.....way cheaper!

christian134
1
Points
christian134 05/28/08 - 01:31 pm
0
0

Seinfield sitcom....George's

Seinfield sitcom....George's dad made it up....right critter....:-)Funny episode..

damsl76
0
Points
damsl76 05/28/08 - 01:33 pm
0
0

galsscock very true 'same

galsscock very true 'same article saving taxpayer dollars...another official finding ways to spend it' as for the ridiculous price of 10,000 to bring a tree in from 5 hours away in boone nc(where one of the largest tree farms is) exactly what part of town are officials spending this money in? id like to go to the shindig up there and have my family bring the tree into augusta for us, we pass the x-mas tree farm there on our way home here. CHRISTIAN134 there are no trees being cut down in augusta for x-mas as for your save the tree project, THERE ARE CHRISTMAS TREE FARMS THAT SPECIFICALLY REPLENISH THE CROP EACH YEAR. do your research s?!t for brains. LITTLELAMB yet again i totally agree with you interesting how we comment on these articles all week and you are the only one to recall fred and his ridiculous ideas.

toldya
0
Points
toldya 05/28/08 - 01:36 pm
0
0

Chistian134- Festivous for

Chistian134- Festivous for the rest of us. Too funny- I thought of posting that myself.

captainscott
0
Points
captainscott 05/28/08 - 01:56 pm
0
0

Point To Ponder---I've been

Point To Ponder---I've been in the freight/logistics business for nearly 30 years. I can get a drop deck open trailer, for less than $5.00 a mile---260 miles from here to Boone, NC, where most of the tree farms are, including ones that grow the trees that large..that's $1300.00, plus $100.00 for the straps, plus( and let's be generous, 10.6% fsc, ttl less than $1600.00--a LONG ways from $10,000 ( remember, the article says that 75% of the 14-16k cost is for transportation). And that is for exclusive use of the trailer, no oversize permits required, delivered direct. I've been doing this a long time, sport....and I do my homework......

captainscott
0
Points
captainscott 05/28/08 - 01:59 pm
0
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Point To Ponder, I forgot to

Point To Ponder,
I forgot to add one other comment---in referring to England, I only meant that I've set up multiple private freight charters from Europe back to the States, anything from 5,000# of bolts to an entire 747, and I know about the costs for transport.

lowellbrown
4
Points
lowellbrown 05/28/08 - 02:01 pm
0
0

As long as the city is

As long as the city is considering importing a tree from that artificial tree farm up there in New York, it might as well consider a permanent faux tree implant, using a lot of concrete to anchor the thing securely into the ground on the Commons. It could be covered during the rest of the year with a rolling glass enclosure, air-conditioned during the hot summer, to protect the delicate fake leaves from the effects of heat, pollen and soot. (Such a structure has been used successfully to protect real tropical trees in colder climates during the winter.) The cost? Well, as many a bureaucrat will tell you, saving money can get right expensive.

Farful
7
Points
Farful 05/28/08 - 02:01 pm
0
0

How about this bright idea:

How about this bright idea: save all the money and don't buy any tree, real or fake.

createyourfuture
66
Points
createyourfuture 05/28/08 - 02:08 pm
0
0

Plant a real tree! That way

Plant a real tree! That way God will be responsible for its maintenance, not the pols.

PAW
0
Points
PAW 05/28/08 - 02:34 pm
0
0

It's just a DAMN TREE!!!!!

It's just a DAMN TREE!!!!! Let it go!

sanders20
0
Points
sanders20 05/28/08 - 04:19 pm
0
0

Christmas is nothing more

Christmas is nothing more than a finacial holiday. i deal with freight costs all day long too. 10K to get a tree?? that is IMPOSSIBLE. I can call and have a dedicated plane from Houston to transport a 1000# for a couple of G's. Now...where did the money really go??

ugaman67
0
Points
ugaman67 05/28/08 - 05:11 pm
0
0

I suggest that the Commission

I suggest that the Commission task staff to locate a healthy live tree that can be planted and cultivated on the Commons for many years of use at minimal expense. Maintenance of a live tree would give of the cost savings of the artificial tree with the aesthetics of the cut natural tree and would be the responsible action to take environmentally as well as fiscally without any sacrifice of quality.

crazyoldman
21
Points
crazyoldman 05/28/08 - 05:34 pm
0
0

Hey ya'll captainscott is the

Hey ya'll captainscott is the one of the ones bringing all the foreign junk into the U.S. running our manufacturers out of business. You should be ashamed captainscott….

sneaky pete
0
Points
sneaky pete 05/28/08 - 06:08 pm
0
0

While we're getting a fake

While we're getting a fake tree, let's get a fake commission to go along with it. Let's get some kids to color some poster board and set thme in place of Fred Russell. Get about as much bang for the buck. I like it. I agree with captain scott. The shipping costs are ridiculous. Nothing gets shopped around. I like the idea of having an evergreen tree at the commons year round that could serve as the annual tree. That would cut costs all the way down to yearly maintenance. Whatcha say freddy boy? Have a smirk and a big f........u.......

damsl76
0
Points
damsl76 05/28/08 - 06:25 pm
0
0

captainscott contact the

captainscott contact the right people and offer your services, my family owns proprty in boone we can get a discount on the tree, thats how i originally knew where the tree farm was.

mayhem1999
0
Points
mayhem1999 05/28/08 - 08:08 pm
0
0

fred, cut out all that darn

fred, cut out all that darn free gas and cello phones and you will have enough to pay for a real tree. something everyone can enjoy, not just some county workers!

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