Tree Abruptly Removed in Appomattox - - ABC13

Tree Abruptly Removed in Appomattox


Reporter: Sally Delta

Appomattox, VA - The removal of a fairly large tree in Appomattox has some folks pretty upset. The tree served as a backdrop for many veterans' events and held a lot of good memories for locals. Some feel the removal was abrupt.

The tree once stood in front of the Appomattox County Historical Museum. The director of that museum says he wasn't warned about its removal until right before the tree was cut down.

"We feel a little betrayed, you might use that word," said Wayne Phelps, director of the Appomattox County Historical Museum.

Phelps has been director for 11 years. Each year, celebrations are held under this 60-year-old Ash tree for events like Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

"We'd line everybody up and speakers would be right up there and that thing shaded the whole area," said Phelps.

On Monday, Phelps says he got a call from the county saying that tree was coming down. Just hours later, he says cutting began.

"We felt, almost a broken heart out here in the county when we lost it," said Phelps.

Phelps says a few weeks ago, he was told that the sidewalks needed to be repaired in Courthouse Square, but he says he was never told the tree had anything to do with it.

Some blame the tree for making the sidewalks unsafe. They say the roots were pushing up from underneath making it dangerous to walk across.

"From my understanding they had to take the tree down in order to get the sidewalk repaired," said Bill Gillespie, interim town manager of Appomattox.

Gillespie had nothing to do with the removal of the tree, but he says in local government, citizen safety is a number one priority.

"If you didn't know it as a locality, then you cannot be sued for it. But if you do know it and you have not made an attempt to fix it, then you are liable for anything that happens to someone if they trip, stumble or fall," said Gillespie.

Phelps says the tree was in good condition and wishes there was more dialogue before the tree came down.

"They didn't give us a chance to sit down at the table and maybe work something out," said Phelps.

Phelps tells us Appomattox County took down the tree. We reached out to the County for comment. But, they did not get back to us.

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