By Associated Press - Sunday, January 1, 2017

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) - Estimated to be 200 years old, the massive live oak in Jekyll Square came down amid the buzzing of chain saws in downtown Brunswick after city officials determined the tree was dying and falling limbs posed a danger to residents.

Months later, this coastal Georgia city hopes to see wood from the majestic oak preserved as works of art. The Downtown Development Authority of Brunswick is offering big chunks of the tree to wood carvers and artists as part of a contest.

“A lot of our community was disappointed about the tree’s removal,” Harvest Hale, the authority’s program manager, told The News of Brunswick (https://bit.ly/2hthUI7). “And this would be a way to keep the tree’s memory in a positive light while adding creativity and community involvement.”

The agency is offering 16 large pieces of the fallen oak for the art contest, sponsored Georgia Power and Southeast Georgia Health System. Though there’s a $35 entry fee, the top prize is $700. Winners will be announced Feb. 22.

Contestants will need to come up with their own designs. Hale noted the oak’s strong wood may pose a challenge.



“It’s very dense, unbelievably tough and it’s easy to crack,” Hale said. “Sandpaper is useless to this kind of wood. But woodworkers who aren’t afraid of that difficulty should definitely enter. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Brunswick officials decided the tree needed to come down after its limbs started falling into Jekyll Square. A tree expert from the University of Georgia told City Hall the old oak would not recover and would only continue to deteriorate. Contractors cut the tree down in late June.

Jason Bates, general manager of a Tipsy McSway’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill near Jekyll Square, said the city would sent an arborist from time to time to tend to the tree. He said workers would add oak leaf mulch combined with pine straw to the base of the tree, hoping to give it more nutrients. But nothing reversed the oak’s slow decline.

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Information from: The News, https://www.thebrunswicknews.com

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