Downtown Tonganoxie trees receive makeover
Fourth Street is shaping up, and the trees are trimming down.
"Look down there," Velda Roberts said, pointing west down Fourth Street. "It's been a long time before you could look down the street and see clearly."
Roberts, a city commissioner and chairman of the tree board, was referring to tree branches that no longer drape over the sidewalks.
Two Tonganoxie High School students, Aaron Adcox and Jake Heskett, began trimming the trees at 7 a.m. Friday.
However, branch cutters didn't get to touch all downtown trees. The trees on the north side of the street, east of Main Street, need to be trimmed. And trees on the south side between Bury and Main also still need trimming.
If the weather holds up and the Fourth Street construction goes smoothly this week, the trimming should be completed by early next week, Roberts said. At that time, some of the trees will also be sprayed and possibly replaced.
Adcox and Heskett, who are summertime city employees, have had their hands full this week laying asphalt on Fourth Street, so they won't have time to devote to tree-trimming.
"These guys have done a great job," Roberts said of two workers. "I appreciate their help."
In the past, the trees were usually trimmed before Tonganoxie Days. But the unusual amount of rain this summer prevented that from occurring, Roberts said.
Before Friday's trimming could begin, Adcox and Heskett had to help some merchants remove leftover Christmas lights. They had to remove more lights than anticipated, which slowed the project, Roberts said.
Roberts said she planned to prune the trees once more before the Leavenworth County Fair comes to town in August.
Jeannie Andrews said the newly trimmed trees looked nice, but she was happier the Christmas lights were finally removed.
"It just looks well taken care of," Andrews said, who works at Sunset Mortgage. "It makes the street look much nicer."
The trimmed branches will make her manager, Leisa Bray, feel safer when she leaves work.
"I can see when I pull out of the parking lot," she said.
Roberts found some of the trees in poor condition. One tree had bagworms. Another tree was covered in ants.
"The trees are important," Roberts said. "The ones we can save that fit the area, we're trying to do that."
Roberts said she hoped to replace the trees with one or two species that can grow in the confined cement block and that withstand the concrete's heat, "which is hard on any tree." Having the same type of tree lining the street would add uniformity to downtown's appearance, she said.
Tonganoxie has won a Tree City USA award each year since the tree board formed eight years ago. The award is based on the amount of information the city provides on how to take care of the city's trees.
Thelma Shelton is impressed by how well the city maintains its downtown. Shelton, who was visiting her family Friday from Jewell, heard about the needed trimming from her grandchildren, Brett and McKinna Shelton.
"They are so neat," she said. "They are really attractive."