By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer
The tall spruce trees that have stood for decades like sentinels near the doors of Marshall Junior High School will soon be cut down. According to Charles Guthal, owner of a local landscaping service, the evergreens are a hazard.
“I don’t like to cut down trees in New Mexico,” said Guthal at Tuesday’s school board meeting, where he was called upon to present his landscaping proposals for the campus. “But these trees put the structural integrity of the building at risk.”
The roots of the trees have stretched underneath the brick building, Guthal said, threatening the school’s pipelines and its foundation. In addition, he said the trees, another set located behind the building, detract from the beauty of the school, a Clovis landmark, with intricately carved stone borders and a terracotta roof.
“We want to — rather than mask the beauty of the building — complement the beauty of the building,” said Guthal.
The landscaper also said that the shrubbery lining the building poses a problem.
“The heavy undergrowth around the main entrance,” he said, “puts children at risk, leaving something for (those with malicious intent) to hide behind.”
The landscape overhaul will rid the campus of six to eight trees and much of the shrubbery that covers the front of the building, Guthal said.
School board member Lora Harlan expressed initial reluctance at the alterations.
“I’m like the rest of us around here,” Harlan said, after viewing photos of two left leaning trees. “I don’t like to take trees down unless you absolutely have to, but these are some very valid reasons.”
Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm suggested that the Guthal team include in its project any junior high students who might be studying landscape, or interested in the craft.
“When we are making this big a change on a campus, if we incorporate the students, then we are ahead of the game,” she said.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• The board accepted bids for cafeteria supplies, provided through various vendors. It also approved a bid for musical instruments and equipment and awarded a maintenance bid to Uni-First.
• The Clovis High School “H” building will be painted. Some money will remain after completion of the project; the funds will be used to construct a room for special education students at La Casita, according to Director of Operations Gene Beiker.
• The schools will provide short-term alternative care for those parents who have yet to make arrangements to accommodate Wednesday’s elementary early release, Seidenwurm announced. For a limited time, professional aides at schools will supervise children whose parents have not arranged after-school care, the superintendent said.