Community tree has seen its last Christmas; new tree will be planted in place


BG Independent News

Downtown Bowling Green will be getting a new community Christmas tree, and it’ll be delivered well before the winter holidays.

At Monday’s Library Board of Trustees meeting, Library Director Michael Penrod said he had asked city arborist Grant Jones to take a look at it. The arborist found clear signs disease. The 50-foot Colorado blue spruce’s days are numbered.

Once the disease sets in, Penrod said, it cannot be reversed, though it’s hard to tell how long the tree would last.

Conceding the tree’s uncertain future, the library board voted to have the tree removed and replaced as quickly as possible.

Jones, Penrod said, felt a new tree, likely about 12-foot-tall, could be in place within weeks. It would cost the library about $3,000-$4,000.

Penrod said he’d already been approached by Mary Hinkelman, the director for Downtown Bowling Green, to discuss the future of the tree. Downtown BG owns the ornaments that decorate the tree, and the years of stringing increasing lengths of lights to cover the tree has taken their toll. A couple ceremonial tree lightings, have suffered temporary blackouts.

Faced with replacing the lights, she wondered how many Downtown BG would have to purchase. She said this afternoon, after being informed of the library board’s decision, that she’s hoping to be able to use the LED bulbs which are in good shape and expensive to replace with whatever replacement wiring is needed. She won’t know how much that would be until later in the year when the decorations are pulled out of storage and inspected.

Penrod said Jones advised planting the tree this fall. The library will leave it up to the arborist to select the best tree, and then just write the city a check. Anything taller than 12 foot, he said, would probably require more watering and feeding of nutrients. A smaller tree could be surrounded by smaller portable trees to add to the festive atmosphere during the holidays.

The decision was not an easy one for the board. Ellen Dalton wondered if they couldn’t just wait a year to let the community adjust to the idea.

But Chet Marcin said his experience is once a tree starts to die, it dies quickly.

Board President Brian Paskvan said he didn’t want to end up with a 50-foot-tall Charlie Brown tree.

Nancy Buchanan said she was afraid a wind storm would topple the tree.

Penrod said it is largely sheltered by the surrounding buildings. Still during recent storm, he said the tree was swaying noticeably in the wind.

The decision was unanimous.

Looking up the trunk of the community tree.

Members of the staff suggested that some ceremony to mark the planting of the new tree could be held.

The tree was first planted in 1987 after a drought killed the original which had only been in place for about year. (See

More than the tree falling, Penrod told the board, his biggest fear was that someone would decide the community Christmas tree should be at another location, the community green space, for example.

He said he is committed to hosting the tree, and the annual tree lighting ceremony. On those chilly nights as many as 200 packed into the library’s lobby. Then after the outdoor festivities, people gather in the atrium for a concert by the Bowling Green High School Madrigals.

That shows how much the library is at the heart of the community.