Rural Missouri - August 2020 - 15
phy here. If we have to choose between a tree and a young
Surrounding the group are lush, shady trees, all plantman's arm, we are going to take down that tree."
ed with help from local third graders and their electric
Adds Chris: "Public safety is No. 1 and reliability is No.
co-op. Chris recalls the year strong winds blew through
2. Years ago, we trimmed the tree because people didn't
the county, taking out almost all of the trees on the
want us to take it down. And now we are coming back and
courthouse square. "There were no trees left untouched,"
I have to take the tree down. 'Why? You used to trim it.'
he says. "I think there are only two trees left that were
Well, we were doing the wrong thing."
pre-tornado. We started putting those trees back. A lot of
As the co-op revamped its right-of-way clearing prothird-grade kids helped. I'd say there are 10 years of them
gram with an eye to ensuring trees don't encroach on its
walking down and helping us plant trees."
power lines, they were determined to do it the right way.
The cooperative's community spirit extends well beyond
Adopting proper trimming methods pushed by Tree Line
the courthouse square, however. Over the
years Ralls County Electric has celebrated
USA led to stronger trees less likely to be damaged
Arbor Day with third grade students from
by storms. Problem trees that might grow or fall into
Ralls County Elementary School. Many trees
lines were removed. Better public relations efforts
helped members understand why the trees needed
have been added to the campus through this
trimmed or dropped. And a free tree replacement
program worked wonders with ensuring that
When rural cemeteries need assistance
"right tree, right place" ideal.
removing a dead tree, they know who to call.
"I work in Ralls County a lot and all the trees
"They say, 'We heard about Ralls County taking
here look good," says David Vance, resource
down this tree around Spencerburg, maybe they
forester for the Missouri Department of Conserwill help us.' So the next year we get them. We
vation. "By properly pruning trees the public is not even
cover the headstones with pallets, bring the trucks in and
going to realize it has been pruned, probably. Whereas if
remove the wood," Chris says.
you go in and hack the tree, they are going to see that and
"They don't have the resources to go in nor the budget
to have someone come in and cut the tree," adds Ralls
"I am really happy with them. They are adhering to the
County Electric CEO Lynn Hodges. "We can be very parstandards, attending the educational classes. They are
ticular about it with our equipment and lower things to
putting forth the effort, money and resources to do what
tree people like me want to see."
The volunteer hours are part of being a Tree Line USA
Aside from the goodwill the program has brought to
Utility. The program exists to recognize best practices in
Ralls County Electric, the Tree Line USA program also has
public and private utility rights of way, demonstrating how
improved reliability for the cooperative's members.
trees and utilities can co-exist for the beneﬁt of communi"I have a few members I talk to who say they remember
ties and citizens.
daily outages," Chris recalls. "And they lived with it. Now
Where once the cooperative trimmed trees as efﬁciently
they ask, 'What have you done different, there's hardly a
as possible, now it takes the time to consider what is best
blink anymore?' I know exactly what we've done different.
for the trees and the members that own them. That might
We've trimmed the trees."
mean careful pruning, or it might mean removing the tree,
if it poses a risk.
The focus on trees is all about safety, Lynn says. "We've
Below left: Chris Gaines shows a buckeye from a tree planted by Ralls
had some issues with folks getting into trees and then getCounty Electric on the courthouse lawn to youth from the Salem Baptist
ting into power lines," he says. "We had a young man lose
Church Daycare. Below: Ralls County's Jamey Simmons shows the
an arm with that issue. That really changed the philosoyouth the proper way to plant a new tree at the courthouse.
Rural Missouri - August 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - August 2020
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Rural Missouri - August 2020 - Contents
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