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will extend its life, as well as protecting it during construction at the library site. Good stewardship of this state tree of Georgia may help it achieve the over 200-year life span that this species has.
The tree was planted by Williamson’s Vidalia High School Class of 1985 to honor the classmate that they lost. Williamson was 22 years old in 1989, completing his last semester as a building science major at Clemson University, when he lost his life during a recreational outing with friends at the Rainbow Falls on the Horsepasture River near Cashiers, North Carolina.
In a 1989 article of The Advance, Williamson’s mother, Judy, said he touched the lives of so many people, and thanked the compassionate people of Vidalia for supporting the family in their loss. The VHS Class of 1985 contributed an ongoing memorial that has provided beauty and shade at the library for over 30 years. The sapling planted by the class has grown to an estimated 35 feet. The crown has spread to about 65 feet.
About 2005, a memorial plaque was provided by Greg’s brother, Glen Williamson, which Glen placed on a brick exterior wall beside the tree. The library Trustees honor the fact that the Live Oak tree has sentimental and aesthetic value to the Williamson family and to the public, and will provide nurturing and protection for it throughout the construction process. Arborist Consultation
ORLS Director Cameron Asbell consulted with Arborist Jerry Holcomb of Waycross for a thorough evaluation of the tree’s health, and for a recommendation for preserving the tree for future generations to enjoy. Presently, the Live Oak is found to have a moderate risk of failure, but with immediate mitigation of careful crown cleaning and raising, and of proper pruning in the coming years, the tree will regain health.
The plan for the tree trimming is to prevent the limbs from touching the roof of the library. This crown raising is, according to Holcomb’s recommendations, “the selective removal of branches to provide vertical clearance for buildings, vehicles, and pedestrians.” This removal will also allow more visibility for drivers to safely cross Jackson Street going west on Sixth Street.
Crown cleaning involves “selective removal of dead, dying, diseased, damaged, cracked, and broken branches. Crowning cleaning focuses on reducing tree risk, improving health, and improving appearance.” An ISA Certified Arborist who has experience in pruning Live Oaks will be hired to carry out the mitigation plans.
Those sentimental about trees may be concerned that the Live Oak will appear scalped, but the trimming will lift the growth upward and will allow areas of the tree that are becoming diseased to receive light for its healing. The Memorial tree will receive scheduled watering, fertilizing and testing during construction to insure its safety.