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Local History

Tornado Kills Trees On Campus

The area between Ellis and Craig halls has always been a shady and tranquil place to walk, study or relax. But SMSU's landscape changed dramatically on October tenth, when a tornado ripped across the southeast corner of the campus. The National Weather Service classified the tornado as F-1, with wind speeds from 73 to 112 miles per hour. In the area of campus known for its majestic old trees, many limbs were lost and some trees were completely uprooted. The afternoon following the storm, service crews began cleaning up debris, a process that took a week and a half. While the uprooted trees were obviously beyond repair, other trees that had only lost branches were also cut down. The result is a shockingly bare walkway near the corner at Grand and National, in an area once shaded by giant catalpa and ash trees.

Jim Edwards is the owner of Southwest Tree Service, a Springfield company that contracts with the university. Edwards explains why so many trees near the corner at Grand and National had to come down.

Edwards says his company removed more than 20 wind-damaged trees from the SMSU campus, including a large catalpa tree estimated to be more than 120 years old. The tornado caused only moderate damage to buildings on campus'the worst damage was at Cheek Hall where a tree hit the building. Edwards says landowners should look for signs of weakness in trees near buildings to prevent damage during strong winds.

While it's difficult to put a monetary value on trees, Edwards says a good place to start is by calculating the cost of removing a particular tree.

It cost the university an estimated 12 to 15 thousand dollars to remove the trees damaged by the tornado. SMSU Superintendent of Grounds Bob Balek says the university is working on plans to replant trees. A new art and design building is also slated for the area between Craig and Ellis halls, but because the funding is not yet available, it may be several years before construction begins on that project. Balek says the proposed building will be taken into consideration when new trees are planted. From the corner at Grand and National, I'm Jenny Fillmer for KSMU news.