Harmon Field board to get tree survey following death

Published 1:48 pm Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Harmon Field Board of Supervisors has agreed to get bids for a tree specialist to survey the parks&squo; trees and remove any dead trees and branches.

The board met Tuesday and discussed an accident that occurred last Friday when a branch fell and killed Herman Edward Hawkins, Jr. while he was walking his dog at the park.

The branch that killed Hawkins was a live branch from a live tree, but Harmon Field Supervisors said now is a good time to check for any problems that could be on the property.

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The board also said they had no problem with friends of Hawkins placing a tree or plaque in the area where Hawkins was killed in his memory.

Harmon Field Parks and Recreation Supervisor George Alley said he&squo;s already had a few tree experts survey the property to see what trees are dead and alive. Alley was instructed to get a few bids for removal of any dead trees at Harmon Field.

Alley suggested that the board budget money annually for such tree removal.

Hawkins was walking his dog, Kona, at Harmon Field last Friday evening when a short, but strong wind storm passed through. Hawkins was hit by an approximate 5-inch in diameter branch from a locust tree on the bridge near the open air gym that crosses the Pacolet River. Hawkins was killed instantly and his dog was injured and taken to Bonnie Brae Veterinary Hospital; the dog was expected to recover.

Locust trees are said to be very heavy and strong trees.

John Vining with the Polk County Cooperative Extension says according to a U.S. Department of Agricultural book, &dquo;black locust is very heavy, hard and excedingly strong and stiff. It has very high shock resistance, high nail-holding qualities, good durability and decay resistance.&dquo;

Although no one can know exactly how a live tree branch could snap in that instant, Vining says the stiff nature of the wood combined with the unusual swirling wind could have caused the limb to snap.

Hawkins was 44 years old and had lived in Tryon since 2005. He was originally from&bsp; Hendersonville.