Melissa meets Melissa, she speaks for the trees

Melissa Topey
Jul 21, 2014

I am a tree hugger.

I, Melissa Topey, went “On The Job” with Melissa Fetter, who is currently taking inventory of trees alongside city streets.

It is part of a twist we here at the Register are putting on my “On The Job” series: Melissa on the job with Melissa.

Are you a Melissa? Do you have a job? Contact reporter Melissa Topey so she can keep the Melissa-streak alive in her On the Job series; or 419.609.5884.

And we two Melissas had a good time on a sunny Thursday afternoon. I learned to identify a few varieties of trees, including a non-native maple, lilac, crab apple, ginkgo and honey locust trees. I learned to record their diameter, assess the health of the trees and got to step away from my desk to get in some exercise (I took 2,139 steps while evaluating about a dozen trees — Not bad for someone who sits at a desk a lot).

Melissa Fetter is the local Soil and Water Conservation District summer conservation intern but has become better known as the “Tree Girl” by those who have seen her out monitoring trees.

Fetter has already logged more than 1,700 trees from the time she started June 2.

It is all done with an electronic GPS system that I found very easy to use.

I used the handheld system to first record the location of a tree. Then a drop-down box asked a series of questions.

What is the type of tree?

What condition is the tree in, based on the canopy of leaves?

Is it damaging the sidewalk?

Are there power lines around and is the tree interfering with the lines?

The next screen asks about the condition of the trunk and has a place for notes.

I could even take a photo of a tree for the electronic file.

I had to do that for a lilac tree at the intersection of Market and Jackson streets, in front of the Rieger building across from the Sandusky Register.

I walked by that tree all the time. It was not until Fetter and I inspected the tree that I really looked at it.

It has a split trunk.

It appeared to have been that way for some time, said Breann Hohman, a member of the city Tree Commission as well as Watershed Coordinator with Erie Soil and Water Conservation District.

Fetter is paid by the district through a Community Foundation Grant.

We also noted a couple trees with girdling roots.

Trees can slowly weaken and die over a period of years as the roots begin to grow around the main stem, cutting off or restricting movement of water and nutrients throughout the tree.

This is caused most commonly from improper planting which does not leave enough root space as the tree grows.

There are several reasons to inspect the health of trees.

* It is important to the esthetics of a community.

* Trees help clean pollutants from the soil and the air.

* They play a major role in creating an inviting walking community where residents come out to walk and visit in the cooling shade they provide.

* Tree-lined streets tend to have lesser crime, Hohman said citing numerous studies.

* An unhealthy tree along the road can damage electrical lines and cause a neighborhood to lose power if the tree or a branch breaks.

No one likes to be left in the dark.

The city could use volunteers to help inventory trees in the parks or maybe help cover a street.

Anyone interested in helping can call Hohman at 419-626-5211 extension 111.

Fetter will make you chocolate chip cookies, she promises.



Really? You have a grant for someone to look at the trees? Size up their health? What if a tree is unhealthy and on the boulevard of a homeowners property? Who's paying to take that tree down? A better use of taxpayer monies would have been to skip the internship and pay to trim and take down the dead and damaged trees that the CITY PLANTED on the boulevards.


How much did all the equipment cost, and how much does this program cost a year? Seems kind of odd that we have a budget for a "Tree Commission" but are making cuts in the fire dept..

Oh, let me guess, we got a grant for the Tree Commission.

These are the questions the Register should be asking...


Thanks, sugar, you're EXACTLY right!

While I appreciate identifying the problem trees, I've personally got a problem tree that I identified to the City YEARS ago! It's already had large branches fall, and what's happened since then? Not. A. THING.

So sure, find the problem trees. If an intern can come over to my place and put her sticker on the tree or file her report, then by all means stop on by and welcome! But if you're not going to do anything about it once you do, it's just another waste of time and money.


What does the city do for the average taxpayer?


Police, fire, water, and sewer. (I'm more than fine with the police and fire departments, but the water/sewer should be privatized.)

Roads? Please. LOOK at 'em! Sidewalks? Nope. Residents are assessed for those. Economic development? Ha, just the OPPOSITE is more like it! Trimming/cutting dangerous trees? Nope. Demolish condemned building? Now you're just being silly!

But hey, we do have that AWESOME floral clock!

Pterocarya frax...


You might as well go ahead and privatize police and fire while you are at it. Let me know how it all works out for ya.

Taxed Enough Already

and they are looking to raise the tax rate in Sandusky...of course they are. Do they need anyone to monitor the grass, flowers or anything else? I will apply.


Love it floral clock! But you can PURCHASE a floral mound for a special occasion! Tou pay for water and sewer, I recall when water/ sewer bills were 30-50 dollars every three months. They went up when the city had to upgrade the facilities. If you call EMS and use the ambulance you're charged for it.
I want someone from the city to tell me where my tax dollars are going?
I would complain about lack of good paying jobs in Sandusky, but why bother that's gone. Our elected officials have screwed us over, completely.