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Christmas tree still shines bright

But funds for upkeep are dimming

By Judy Reed

It’s a colorful beacon for miles around. And when you see it lit, you know Christmas is just around the corner.

The beacon of cheer we are talking about is the 90-foot-plus evergreen at 427 S. Main Street (Northland Drive), Cedar Springs, at the Reep family home. 

The former owner of the home, Evelyn Cossin, used to decorate the tree with red and white lights each Christmas, and the city has continued that tradition. When she died in 1988, she left a $15,000 CD to help the city with a portion of the expenses to maintain the tree each holiday season. 

However, according to City Manager Mike Womack, with the low interest rates over the last few years and an increase in maintenance costs, the CD is no longer able to generate enough funds in interest to pay the DPW to complete the necessary upkeep costs.

“I know that the DPW has worked with the current property owner to explore various ways to reduce costs and the current owner has also volunteered to pay some of those upkeep costs but any way you slice it, the interest just is no longer sufficient to maintain the holiday light display’s costs,” he said.

Womack said he’s developed an administrative policy for the City where they will begin dipping into the principal of the trust to help maintain the tree, which will eventually eliminate the funding for the yearly maintenance but should enable the City to continue paying for the tree for a few more years.  

“We have also discussed the idea of simply restringing the entire tree with brand new heavy duty LED bulbs, which should be relatively maintenance free for years to come (7-8) but would also come at a substantial price now and would likely eliminate most of the Cossin principal,” he said.

Womack also noted that the Cedar Springs City Council has not yet weighed in on the issue, and perhaps they might have some other ideas or want to go in a different direction.

In the meantime, enjoy the beauty of the lights, and have a merry Christmas!

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