Faulkner County tree, courthouse to be lit Tuesday

By Tammy Keith Published December 1, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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Tammy Keith

Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson stands in front of the 22-foot Christmas tree on the courthouse lawn, 801 Locust St., that will be lit at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The tree was cut from his family farm. The courthouse will also be decorated with lights for the first time in at least 20 years, Dodson said.

CONWAY — It’s hard not to compare the city of Conway’s Christmas tree with the one Faulkner County plans to light at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

It’s a tale of two trees. It’s like the city mouse and the country mouse.

They’re just different.

“It’s not a competition,” Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson said.

The tree representing Faulkner County is a 22-foot cedar “off my family’s farm,” Dodson said.

The city’s tree in downtown Conway is a 54-foot artificial tree that cost approximately $130,000 from Get Lit, a company in Springdale. The tree is said to be the state’s largest.

Critics have taken to social media to blast the city for buying the tree. It was paid for with advertising and promotion funds, money that can’t be used for streets or general-fund projects, officials said.

At the city’s tree lighting ceremony Nov. 23, employees of Get Lit scrambled to get the tree assembled minutes before the event.

Then a section of the tree’s lights didn’t come on.

Jack Bell, chief of staff for Conway Mayor Tab Townsell, said the tree’s lights were repaired Tuesday.

The judge said Faulkner County received private donations to buy approximately 4,000 feet of lights to decorate the tree, the grounds and the courthouse. Dodson said he and other employees have worked on the county’s lighting ceremony “for a while now.”

“We’re told it’s been at least 20 years since the courthouse was fully lit,” Dodson said.

Dodson, his county administrator and two other employees put the lights up, he said.

The metal tree stand and the star that will top the tree were borrowed from the city of Greenbrier, he said.

“Walk-up music” by a New Life Church praise team will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The lighting ceremony will start at 6:30. Santa Claus will be there “and will be catering to the kids,” Dodson said. Santa will lead the crowd in Christmas songs.

Dodson said a special invitation is extended to all current and former county officials and employees.

He said the refurbishing of the courthouse marker, a project of Eagle Scout Jacob Darter, will be unveiled, too.

“We’re real excited about it; it’s going to be a neat affair,” Dodson said. “We’re hoping to have a good time.”

He said the event should conclude by 7 p.m.

“We don’t want it to be too long,” he said.

Dodson said the county’s Christmas tree was erected Nov. 24, in plenty of time for the event.

He said the size is “appropriate for the rural setting” of the county.

“Our lights have been tested already,” he said.

Not that it’s a competition.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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