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County works to remove ‘dangerous’ trees from roadside

Between county crews and Clifford Construction, more than 100 potentially dangerous trees were removed from the sides of Gulf County roadways between the Board of County Commissioners’ May 25 and June 26 meetings.

But the county still has a long way to go.

At the BOCC’s June 26 meeting, John Howell from Clifford, took to the podium to discuss his company’s progress along Guf County roads.

“We have contracts throughout the state of Florida with the Department of Transportation, and one of our contracts covers Gulf County… Commissioner Rich at the last meeting raised some issues that we needed to better address,” he said.

“… We’ve tried to address the trees in the right of way, but there are a few more steps we have to take, legalities, before we can take down trees outside of the right of way.”

Potentially hazardous trees, many of which were killed or badly damaged in Hurricane Michael, have become something of a mission for county officials, particularly County Commissioner David Rich, who has been calling on county employees in recent months to remove trees before they have the chance to become a danger to the public.

“Since the last meeting, when we talked about trees, John’s group has taken down 77 along (Highway) 71 and (Highway) 98,” said Mark Cothran, Gulf County public works director. “That’s 77 less that are going to fall across those roadways. Our crews took down another 20. Now, there’s probably more.”

Since the May meeting referenced by Cothran, a fallen tree caused significant damage to a log truck on Highway 71 after falling in a thunderstorm.

“Had it been something smaller, a family vehicle, it could have been catastrophic,” said Rich. “We talk about these trees falling and hurting people, and that’s our main concern.”

Going forward, County Administrator Michael Hammond said the county may need to consider being “tougher on property owners” who do not remove dangerous trees from near roadways.  He mentioned he might propose legislation on the matter at a future date, but no action to this effect was taken at the June meeting.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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