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Rental truck helps Russellville Electric tackle tall trees

As they trimmed a massive oak tree on South Washington Avenue Thursday morning,  Russellville Electric employees Hunter Smith and Brad Bentley were lifted more than 100 feet into the air, thanks to a 105-foot bucket truck rented by the Russellville Electric Board.

The department has the truck for 30 days in order to trim taller trees whose branches have grown over primary utility lines.

“We had nothing to reach the taller trees in town so we could have contracted out the work or do it ourselves. It was more cost effective to rent the truck and do it ourselves,” said Russellville Electric Board General Manager Charles Canida.

Although Russellville Electric has a full-time tree trimming crew, they operate with a 55-foot bucket truck, so the extra 50 feet allows workers to trim trouble areas on trees that tower over primary lines. The crew has identified trouble areas where the taller bucket is needed.

This week, the crew spent three days on Underwood Road before moving to South Washington Thursday morning.

“With one crew doing nothing but tree trimming, that's why our service is so reliable around town. We try to stay ahead of problems that can come from falling limbs,” Canida said.

Canida encouraged residents to contact Russellville Utilities before attempting to trim trees around power lines.

“There's a danger of people doing this themselves if the trees are near lines. We ask them to contact us and let us take a look and see if we can get it or if we can approve them cutting it,” Canida said.

Canida said several communities contract out tree trimming but Russellville Electric made a commitment to do it with a full-time crew and he agrees with the concept.

“These guys know the difference between primary and secondary lines and realize the hazards that may be there,” Canida said.

Once the job of trimming is complete, the crew cleans up the site, piles the brush and a brush truck crew hauls off the debris.

“We do our own cleanup and always try to leave the site in better shape than when we found it. We haul the brush to a location behind Road Gear and we usually burn it once a year,” Canida said.

Canida said they rented the bucket truck for 30 days in order to have sufficient time to trim all trees and work around inclement weather.

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