Leaning Oak

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 12, 2009

At the Cliff Finch Office Building in Batesville, a leaning oak tree gets a close inspection Monday by (from left) Panola EMA director Daniel Cole, road manager Lygunnah Bean and board attorney Bill McKenzie. The storm that rumbled through Panola County last week caused supervisors to worry about the danger posed by the tree. Behind McKenzie is a second tree that fell several weeks ago. The Panolian photo by Rupert Howell

Old leaning oak tree causes consternation

By Billy Davis

Panola County supervisors on Monday recessed for 20 minutes to view a towering oak tree that is leaning toward the Cliff Finch Office Building on Eureka Street.

“It would crush that building if it fell,” road manager Lygunnah Bean speculated to the board.

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“It will hurt somebody,” agreed board president Gary Thompson.

The tree has apparently been a danger for some time, but supervisors had become alarmed after last week’s storm felled hundreds of trees in and around Batesville.

More than 190 homes were damaged, most of them by trees or tree limbs, and some homes were destroyed. 

Near the leaning oak, two other trees had blown down three weeks ago, falling away from the building, said Thompson.

The tree sits on property owned by Batesville’s VFW post. The Cliff Finch building is located on county property.

Supervisors learned Monday that any effort to remove the oak tree could be hampered because VFW is negotiating a sale of the property to the owners of the adjacent Batesville Cemetery.

“If people are in danger, you don’t need to wait for VFW to conclude a sale,” board attorney Bill McKenzie told supervisors.

McKenzie, learning of the dangerous tree for the first time, wondered aloud if supervisors should clear the building if the tree is as dangerous as described. But some supervisors then backtracked about the danger, saying it did not pose an immediate threat to the building.  

When supervisors returned from the tree-viewing trip, they waited for a few minutes while Thompson talked via cell phone to VFW representative Calvin Land.

Land was attempting to contact a tree service to remove the oak, Thompson told a reporter.

In other county business:

•Supervisors were introduced to sheriff’s deputy Bobby Billingsley.

Billingsley, already known for his animal control services, has been hired for beaver control in the county at a salary of $350 a month. He will be paid through the road department, which budgets for the service.

“I’m not trapping. I’m hunting,” he told the board.

•Bean reported bridge closings on Fudge Town and Murphree roads due to storm damage.

Hubbard, Abram and Turner roads are also closed temporarily to repairs, he said.

•Supervisors will convene for board meetings twice next week.

The board will meet May 18 at 11 a.m. to allow any public protests of a planned bond issue. Supervisors have sought the bonds to resume summer road projects.

The board will then return on May 20 at 10 a.m. to open construction bids for a Benson-Herron Road bridge.