- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - A tree cut down in an Alabama park and used as a prop at President-elect Donald Trump’s recent rally will be used to build cat scratching posts and bird houses, officials in the city of Mobile said.

After some residents expressed anger about the loss of the 50-foot cedar tree, Colby Cooper apologized for his role in having it cut down and decorated with ornaments for Trump’s Dec. 17 “thank you” rally.

Cooper said he was “overzealous” in trying to meet expectations of Trump’s team for the rally at a football stadium.

Cooper is chief of staff for Mobile mayor Sandy Stimson.

The tree branches will be given to the Girl Scouts so they can create cat scratching posts for animal shelters, city officials said Thursday. The tree trunk will go to the Boy Scouts, so they can make bluebird houses and bird feeders for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

That project will be completed this winter in order for the houses and feeders to be installed before the spring birding season, the city said in its statement.

“I am certain that this project will be a benefit to our Scouts, the elderly residents and the birds themselves all while ensuring the remains of this particular tree are put to a positive use,” Troop 3 Scoutmaster Charles Simpson in a statement to the news site Al.com.

City officials say they also plan to plant one Cryptomeria and two cedars at Public Safety Memorial Park - the city park where the tree was removed - in coming days. The $1,345 cost to purchase the trees was paid by Cooper, Al.com reported.

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