By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Carl Cole worked hard his whole life to get the piece of property he retired to. The 70-year-old started working in lumber mills at 16 before moving on to a career reclaiming strip mines with North American Refractories and other general labor and carpentry work. He’s owned the 20 plus acres of old refractory land for 32 years, but he’s only lived there full time the last few years since retiring, he said.
It’s a pretty piece of land with bloodroot, wild ginger, and other edible and medicinal plants growing along the drainage between hills – and a tall cherry tree riddled with woodpecker holes right along the fence line. It’s that tree that has Cole worried.
After the ice storm, and all the damage that caused, he’s worried another severe weather event could knock that tree down, taking out the home he’s worked so hard for, and he isn’t sure where to turn for help with it.
He said he’s called Grayson RECC about concerns that the tree, which he estimates at over 80 feet tall, could take out their transformer and the power lines if it falls. But though it’s tall enough to hit their lines, he said they told him because the tree was more than 20 feet from their lines and transformer, they were not allowed to cut it.
He said he has reached out to the fire department, National Guard, and others with similar results. He said he even “flagged down a FEMA truck” surveying the damage along his road, but was told to contact the county.
Cole said he’s reached out to the county in the past about road issues on Greenbrier Branch, but that he saw little success. He said he wasn’t encouraged to reach out to his magistrate or the judge executive as a result of those past experiences. Since it’s on private property and doesn’t border any county property or right-of-way, he said, it’s unlikely they’d be able to help either.
Cole said he has priced hiring someone himself to come in and top the tree, which is hollow throughout, and that after initially giving him a quote of $800 it was later increased to over $1,000. Cole said he lives on a fixed income from disability, and he just doesn’t have an extra $1,000 to spare.
He’s not sure where to turn, he said. But, he added, he has faith that his prayers will be answered and a solution will be found – just like they were answered when he underwent heart surgery.
“I trust in Him,” Cole said.
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