Morgan County Tree Nursery in need of repairs

WEST LIBERTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Last year's March 2nd tornadoes severely damaged the Morgan County Tree Nursery, and officials are hoping the state funds the restoration of the nursery.

The Equipment Maintenance Supervisor, Ralph Cooper, who has been working at the West Liberty Tree Nursery for 30 years, was among the first people to see the damage the night of March second 20-12.

"It's just like you lost your life," said Cooper.

Division of Forestry officials say their cooler, production building, and nearly 100,000 seedlings were destroyed by the tornado. They say it will cost almost 3 million dollars to restore the nursery.

Officials with the Division of Forestry say that using trucks as coolers, which is what they are forced to do until they get a new cooler, is not the best way to take care of seedlings.

"It's basically a fresh product that has a shelf life on it. And with the trucks we have, the refrigerated trucks, the shelf life is a lot shorter than what it should be," said Charles Saunders, the Superintendent for the Morgan County Tree Nursery.

The Communications Director for Governor Steve Beshear says no decision has been made about restoring the nursery at this time.

"Hopefully they'll make a decision on what what we're going to be getting built back so the young seedlings we have growing out here right now have a place to go next year," Saunders said.

"This would be good for them to put us back in operation," said Cooper.

Division of Forestry officials say if the nursery is not will not last much longer.

"After last year's tornadoes, state agencies worked hand in hand with local governments to rebuild communities and restore services. In Morgan County in particular, Gov. Beshear has worked very hard to ensure the local government received the support and expertise needed to design and reconstruct a decimated area as quickly as possible.
The global economic downturn has forced states to make very difficult choices. Through 11 budget cutting exercises, Gov. Beshear has cut $1.6 billion while protecting key services, like education, from the worst of the reductions. Other agencies have been cut up to 40 percent. Measures have already been taken to consolidate and regionalize offices of the Division of Forestry as a cost saving action. We are reviewing many other options to determine the most fiscally responsible approach to support the Energy and Environment Cabinet and its Forestry division. At this time, no final decision has been made regarding the tree nursery in Morgan County."- Kerri Richardson, Communications Director for Governor Steve Beshear.

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