Jefferson City Man Fights to Save His Family's Trees

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JEFFERSON CITY - A Jefferson City man spent Wednesday up in a tree. Dwight Lemons spent his third consecutive day sitting on a ladder tied to a tree in his front yard. It's his attempt to inform people that Central Electric Power Cooperative is cutting down trees along power lines. Lemons said his biggest concern is the company's policy of cutting down trees that are currently or could grow to be larger than 12 feet tall. "I'm just hoping that the people in the community will recognize that this isn't right that they shouldn't be cutting down trees that don't need to be cut down," Lemons said.

The trees also have a sentimental value for Lemons as he planted them more than 35 years ago. "I got these sprouts from my stepfather's farm and he's gone now and the farm's gone too, it has a meaning to me," Lemons said. 

Lemons asked if trimming the trees instead of cutting them down was a possibility, but a contractor told him no.

The tree is one of four on his property that Central Electric said must be cut down. The company legally has the right to cut down trees within fifty feet of the central power lines.

Neighbors said they support Lemons and are happy for him that he got to keep his trees longer than they did.

Central Electric Power Cooperative wouldn't talk to KOMU on-camera. Mark Newbold, a spokesperson for the company, did tell us its main concern is always safety and reliability. Newbold also said the power lines running next to Lemons's house are transmission lines that if damaged would cause thousands of businesses and homes to lose power.

In a written statement the company said "transmission lines provide electricity to thousands of homes and businesses, and keeping trees away from and out of the lines helps to maintain reliability. Even trees that are healthy and appear to be an adequate distance from the line often still pose a threat during ice storms and extreme wind."

Central Electric is legally allowed to cut down any trees that are within 50 feet of the central power line.

Lemons said he'll stay perched in his tree until they send a contractor to cut it down, but the future of his trees seem in jeopardy. Lemons watched from his tree on Wednesday as contractors worked to remove trees just down the street.