Wind Gust Brings Down Large Tree On Limestone's Front Campus

Monday, April 29, 2019 - 3:00pm
Fallen Tree

If all goes according to plan, a large tree that fell on Limestone College’s historic campus in Gaffney will be removed by the end of this week.

Shortly before 4 p.m. on Friday, April 26, a high-speed gust of wind brought down the tree near Winnie Davis Hall of History. No one was injured and there was no damage to any buildings, the brick plaza, or the sidewalks on the front campus. But a once shaded lawn is now open to the sun for the first time in many decades.

According to Limestone’s maintenance partner, it is a high priority to get the tree removed from campus as soon as possible, with exams starting later this week and two graduation ceremonies scheduled for Friday, May 10.

Hayden Hutchings, Sodexo’s Facility Manager at Limestone, contracted with Gilly’s Tree Service out of Blacksburg to begin the removal process on Monday. The cleanup efforts, Hutchings said, should be complete by Wednesday and will not disrupt normal campus operations.

Immediately after the tree came down, Limestone’s Campus Safety and facilities management teams rapidly responded to evaluate the situation, checked to make sure there no injuries, and then cordoned off the area to prevent any accidents.

“We feel so fortunate that no one was nearby when the tree fell,” said Limestone College President Dr. Darrell Parker. “Typically, throughout the week, the front campus is a gathering spot for our students. The area in front of Winnie Davis Hall is particularly popular with our students for socializing and studying because of the benches and common area outside of that building. Because it was a Friday afternoon and most of our classes had ended, there were no students gathered in the area or walking to and from classes at the time.

The tree, one of many on the front campus, was uprooted at its base, its thick branches sprawling across the grass below. Shortly after the tree went down, a high wind warning was issued and Limestone students, faculty, and staff were notified to please navigate carefully on and around campus.

Trees at Limestone are monitored on a continuous basis to gauge their health, and Parker said those efforts will be enhanced in light of Friday’s incident.

“Part of Limestone’s charm is the beauty on the historic front campus,” Parker noted. “The safety our students and our college community is paramount. While we can’t predict what Mother Nature will do, we are taking steps to inspect the other large trees to gauge if they could be a potential hazard in a strong storm or during high winds.

“In losing a tree at that stage of its maturity, we will likely take the opportunity to replace it somehow moving forward,” Parker added. “Until those plans are made, we will clean up the area, fill the hole, and plant grass.”

Parker mentioned that alumni and the community should not be concerned about the fate of the fallen tree because the College is already considering many projects that would use portions of the wood. He said project details would be announced at a later date.

“It was a magnificent tree,” Parker said. “There’s going to be a large hole in the sky for a long time. The tree was a prominent feature in that space where our campus gathers on a daily basis and for special events. We’re going to miss its elegance and its shade.”

Kelly Curtis, Limestone’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement, said that the College welcomes support to keep the campus beautiful and welcoming to the community.

“It takes a lot of resources and effort to create such an attractive campus,” she explained. “If friends of the College have a specific beautification project they would like to consider, we would love to hear from them. It’s not a coincidence that the finest liberal arts institutions in the country are in small towns, and that they are splendid and inspiring locations.

“We often hear students and alumni say to us, ‘The moment I stepped foot on campus, I knew I belonged here.’ The historic architecture and beautiful front campus have a tremendous impact. The Limestone campus itself is an effective recruiting tool because potential students and their parents usually fall in love with it when they visit for the first time.”

Those who would like to contribute to the College’s campus improvement efforts can contact Curtis at kcurtis [at] limestone.edu.

 

 

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