Jessica Hallock / For The Courier
Rod Ost watches as the blue spruce he planted at East Side School more than 20 years ago is lifted out of the ground. To save it from being chopped down in the construction project, he hired a track hoe and got help from Jesse Nickels to move it to a new home, his shop on Scottie Pride Drive.
More than 20 years ago, when he was a trustee on the Glasgow School Board, Rod Ost wrote a successful DNRC grant for trees. He planted 50 trees of different varieties around all the schools and at Alumni Park. Recently, he rescued one of them at East Side School, where a major construction project is going on.
The tall blue spruce at the school entrance was supposed to be spared, but Ost got word that a contractor was going to cut it down. On Oct. 6 he rented a track hoe and with his daughter, Jessica Hallock, and her boyfriend, Jesse Nickels, he dug it up with a huge root ball and replanted it by his shop on Scottie Pride Drive.
“If it makes it, I’m happy,” Ost said. “If not, well, I tried.”
Back in 1993, Ost had school staff and kids helping to plant those trees, especially at Irle School. He made it a big deal with the kids, who learned that trees provide shade, clean the air and block the wind. Principal Dennis Idler came up with an underground drip system. Several of those trees are now big and tall on the playground, where he planted them because “it is so cotton pickin’ hot in the summer.”
At a recent Glasgow School Board meeting held at East Side School, trustees noted the blue spruce rescue and called Ost the Johnnie Appleseed of Glasgow.
Three of his pines are still at the high school, down toward the football field. Three are at East Side (now two), six or seven are at Irle and four are at Alumni Park. Also at Alumni Park are four or five trees that date from the old high school. They were saved when the park was built.
Ost has heard that only about 10 percent to 15 percent of newly planted trees survive. Counting up the ones he planted at the schools, he is pretty happy to note a 34 percent survival rate.
Ost grieves that when South Side School was torn down, they didn’t take the trees into consideration.
He is prepared to do battle to keep the playground trees at Irle School, even though the playground is the site of the planned new building.
“I love trees. I just absolutely love’em.” Ost said.