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Swapping Trees On Plum Creek

With the redesign of Kentucky Living magazine this October, I want to assure readers of this monthly back page column—The View from Plum Lick—will be “stayin’ alive.” The heart of it will beat on in favor of down-home values (avoiding “politics as usual,” sectarian points of view, and offensive choice of words—options amply available in the open market of free expression).

As long as I’m able to put my fingers on the keyboard and as long as management is willing to put up with me, I’ll continue to visit with readers who have cooperative rural electric meters, those who wish they did, and those who wish they didn’t.

Never mind, we’re all in this electrical thing together.

Which brings me to tree trimming and tree replacement, which is designed to clear rights-of-way for high-voltage wires. Most people may not realize this, but Clark Energy Cooperative (our Plum Lick supplier) spends about $1 million a year trimming trees and another $24,000 replacing tall fellers who don’t want to be trimmed.

Comes a message hung on our doorknob: “Over near creek where the main line crosses fence. We will need to cut several walnuts and a sycamore tree. Also a wild cherry tree growing around pole. We will clean up all the brush.”

Hold on there. Cut my trees?


Actually, I didn’t have to be hit over the head to know what was a real deal. At no cost to me, the electrical customer, the line clearing contractor, W.A. Kendall Co. Inc., would take down 10 trees, clear away the brush, and put me in touch with the tree replacement folks at Clark Energy.

The missus favors dogwoods and redbuds.

I’ll hold out for Joe Creason’s coffee tree, Bert Combs’ tulip poplar, or Jesse Stuart’s “trees of Heaven,” but taller varieties won’t go under the 7,200-volt high wire, where eventually they’d have to be removed again. Big waste of money.

What to do?

Kendall representative Nathan Stewart came all the way from his home on a mountaintop in Estill County to explain the situation. Not until then did Otis Dunnaway of Estill County position himself in the “bucket,” maneuver himself among the trees, and go to work with his gleaming, fire-eating, take-no-prisoners chain saw. He used a long-handled lopper when he got too close to the hot wire, the kind of thing not to be undertaken by the inexperienced. In fact, it can be deadly. No unplanned moves made by Mr. Dunnaway in the bucket.

Today, William Watts Sr. from Wolfe County cranked up the bandit Model 200+XP and fed it Plum Lick walnut limbs for breakfast. His son, Bill, was there to help and gain more experience. The missus and I watched with gratitude.

Best time for planting trees? In the fall.

What perfect timing.

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