Hawkins commissioners want tree on courthouse lawn to be cut

Jeff Bobo • Jun 11, 2013 at 9:09 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County commissioners said Tuesday they want a pine tree located on the front lawn of the historic Hawkins County Courthouse cut down because it obstructs the public’s view from Main Street of the newly renovated facility.

In Rogersville, however, the municipal Tree Board must give its approval before any tree can be removed from public property or within the historic district.

The county commission’s Buildings Committee voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of directing County Mayor Melville Bailey to send a letter to the Tree Board seeking its permission to cut down the pine.

No one remembers exactly how long that pine tree has been in front of the courthouse, although former Rogersville Heritage Association Director Carolynn Elder told the committee she believes it’s not been much more than 20 years.

Elder said the tree was planted by the RHA to serve as a Christmas tree for Town Square, and it doesn’t have any historical significance.

Commissioner John Metz suggested offering Rogersville a tree to plant in exchange for taking the courthouse tree.

Elder noted that RHA is currently seeking arboretum status for Crockett Creek Park.

She said it would be “diplomatic” to inquire if the RHA lacks any specific species needed to acquire arboretum status, and offer to purchase that tree in exchange for removing the courthouse pine.

Committee member Joe McLain said he believes the administrative building, where the county mayor’s offices are located, looks much better since the trees were removed from its front lawn.

McLain said he believes removal of the pine from the front of the courthouse would have the same affect of “opening up” the lawn.

Committee members agreed that they’d prefer to leave the courthouse lawn area bare where the pine is currently located rather than plant a new tree.

“I think the general public would be happy with that tree gone,” said Buildings Committee Chairman Darrell Gilliam.

Gilliam added, “That courthouse (renovation) is a beautiful project. I’d like to see it opened up.”

A renovation was completed last year on the courthouse, which was constructed in 1836 and is Tennessee’s oldest functioning courthouse.

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