Sunday, July 20, 2003

Spruce to fill hole in town's heart



By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - In the middle of summer's heat, Lebanon businessman John McComb is thinking of adding to the warmth of his hometown's Christmas celebration.

The former city councilman is donating a live, 25-foot Colorado blue spruce to replace the towering tree that was recently removed from tiny Christmas Tree Park at Broadway and Main Street.

The old tree, which stood more than 40 feet high, was a beloved feature of Lebanon's popular Christmas Festival and was decorated for years by schoolchildren. It was, however, more than 80 years old and failing.

"It's the centerpiece of (the) Christmas celebration," said McComb, a resident of the city for more than three decades and a member of the city planning commission. "To us here in Lebanon, this is very important."

The corner of the park, across the street from Lebanon's City Hall, now features only a tree stump, but within two weeks the city's new evergreen will be trucked from Cleveland and planted.

The park is also getting new sidewalks, drainage pipes, benches, landscaping and a water fountain.

Those park improvements, which cost more than $20,000,are part of the city's extensive Main Street expansion and renovation, which will near completion in the coming months.

McComb declined to say how much he is spending to purchase the spruce and have it trucked in.

"It's not a question of cost," he said, adding that he was happy to help the city out.

Mayor Amy Brewer praised McComb, calling him a "generous individual."

"This will allow us to keep the Christmas tradition going. Students decorate it and people love to crowd around it during the holiday festival," Brewer said.

Brewer added that even though the park is small, - about 35 yards across - "it has been the center of the town's green space, and a rare commodity nowadays where people in the city can come and gather."

E-mail mclark@enquirer.com




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