Too little, too late for beloved magnolia tree

February 25, 2011 2:51:52 PM PST
Catherine Robinson has been fighting with Progress Energy to keep her late husband's favorite magnolia tree in her backyard.

Robinson was married to LTC Bob Robinson for nearly 50 years, and for her, the tree connects the couple. However, that connection is about to end.

"But that was my husband's favorite tree because he was from Georgia, and every yard in Georgia had a tree -- [a] Magnolia tree," Robinson explained.

Four years ago, just after her husband died, Progress Energy cut down 14 trees in her backyard that were a threat to power lines. The magnolia tree was spared because of its sentimental value, but during a recent inspection, the company discovered it had grown closer to the lines.

"It's a done deal," Robinson said. "He said yesterday that the tree will be down. If I don't get it down, they would pull it down."

Now, the power lines run along the back of Robinson's property. Although the tree has been trimmed, Progress Energy says that's not good enough and it's going to have to come down.

Progress Energy told ABC11 Eyewitness News the company knows Robinson has in good faith offered to maintain the tree. The company offered the following statement in part, "...the company maintains 6,000 miles of transmission lines, and it would be impossible for us to monitor thousands of individual customer agreements regarding specific trees."

In addition, the company says keeping the lines cleared of trees is a federal mandate. A violation could cost Progress Energy a fine of up to a million dollars.

While Robinson understands why the tree has to finally come down, she says it doesn't make it any easier for her to lose an emotional connection to her late husband.

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