The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 4, 2013

Hazardous tree hangs for days

Agencies balk at taking responsibility

DAVIDSVILLE — It took four days, but a large tree that had been caught in telephone wires and dangling precariously above a local roadway finally was removed on Monday afternoon.

Initially, no one would take responsibility for removal of the limb, which was described by a witness as an “accident waiting to happen.”

Kim Miller, who lives on Saylor School Road, said the limb has been hanging over the road since Jan. 31 following a snow- storm.

“It looks like it could slide right out of there,” she said. “I don’t want it to fall on someone and them get hurt over something silly like this, and if a higher truck comes down the road it could hit it because the tree is that low.”

Getting the problem taken care of hasn’t been easy.

Miller drives a school bus and she was on her route Thursday when she noticed the limb. She said she reported it to her dispatcher, who in turn was supposed to alert the authorities in Conemaugh Township, Somerset County.

But when Miller drove to school on Monday morning, the problem still hadn’t been fixed.

“It seems like nobody is doing anything about it,” she said.

Conemaugh Township, Somerset County, Supervisor Albert Zuccolotto said when something like a tree coming down happens they contact 911, and a local fire company is dispatched to the scene.

“If it is on power lines or telephone lines they are not allowed to touch it, so it goes back to 911 for them to call Penelec or Verizon,” he said.

The Tribune-Democrat called the Conemaugh Township supervisors, who referred the call to the state Department of Transportation.

PennDOT then said that because the tree was tangled in wires, that Penelec should be contacted. Penelec said they were Verizon’s wires and that the telephone company should handle the problem. Verizon initially told The Tribune-Democrat that it was the township’s responsibility.

Zuccolotto said he was not aware of any calls coming into the township office regarding the tree.

Jerome Volunteer Fire Company Chief Russell Miller said the fire company received word of the limb Monday morning, but added that Conemaugh Township Fire Company cut a part of the limb but had to stop since the rest was on a phone wire.

“Verizon has been notified and they said someone would be out today (Monday),” he said.

The tree limb was removed Monday afternoon.

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