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A Tree Is Saved in Ohio                                Page 1 of 5

Mike Wolfinger received the phone call about his tree at 8 o'clock on a Sunday night in March, about the time when he would most expect to be able to relax. As a member of the United Steelworkers of America and an employee of Kaiser Aluminum in Newark, Ohio, Mike figured Sunday should be his day of rest. Besides, he had a broken leg. So he couldn't even work his farm the way he wanted to. So you can imagine his surprise when a neighbor came over and told him, "Their gonna cut your tree tomorrow."

"Say, what?" said Mike.

"Their gonna cut your tree tomorrow. The Franklin Township trustees said your tree is blocking road so they're gonna cut it down."

Now Mike was taking all this in as quick as he could. Particularly since all this new information was going to congeal in about twelve hours in the form of some county employees with chainsaws and a loader showing up on his private property early in the morning to take his tree. A tree that maybe ten cars passed day. A tree that barely caused a hiccup on an obscure dirt road. A tree that had thus far lived in anonymity.

Mike and his wife, Darlene, loved that tree. Their sons, who played high school football, loved the tree, too. And so did Mike's elderly parents, who lived with them. It was a four-hundred year white oak that had been here before the Europeans showed up to Ohio. It was just inside the boundary of his farm, where he raised cows and corn. And as a steelworker and a farmer, Mike understood the both the importance of environmental protection and the impact of environmental destruction. He breathed the toxic fumes at the Kaiser plant. And he tilled the fertile soil at the place he called home. And he loved the earth dearly. And one of his favorite pieces of earth happened to have that tree sitting on top of it. And he would be damned if anything happened to it.

So Mike Wolfinger started making some phone calls in the middle of the night to the Franklin Township Board of Trustees.







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