OWOSSO (WJRT) (5/10/2019) - UPDATE: After this story aired, Consumers Energy officials called Ron Ackels and worked out an agreement to save the tree.
This towering pine tree decked out with 52,000 lights during the last Christmas season could be a lot shorter or disappear altogether when a Consumers Energy trimming crew comes through.
Ackels will complete some minor trimming at the top to keep it away from the power lines. That will satisfy concerns from Consumers about the utility's infrastructure.
An unofficial Christmas landmark in the Owosso area faces an uncertain future after bringing joy to hundreds of residents.
The so-called Owosso Christmas tree on M-52 near Baker College of Owosso has been marked for trimming by Consumers Energy. The owners got a card in the mail saying the chainsaws may come soon.
Ron and Jorja Ackels enjoy seeing people come from all over the state to take pictures with their mighty green giant at Christmas time. Last year, they decked it out with 52,000 lights.
The tree even has its own Facebook page.
However, Consumers Energy has indicated the tree might interfere with electrical lines running near it. The utility is planning to trim it soon to continue providing safe and reliable service.
Ron planted the tree with his son in 1985.
"It got planted. It lived. It got transplanted. It surprised us again and lived, and my wife put lights on it 30 years ago," he said.
Ron said the tree had been marked for trimming for about a year. He explored other options to avoid trimming, but all of them proved too costly, he said.
Consumers Energy officials said there hasn't been a timetable set for when the forestry work will be done in the area.
Before any trimming is done, a planner will come through affected area and talk with homeowners. Ron hopes the trimming is very minor or can still be avoided entirely.
"Well if the tree is cut, it's done and it would be impossible to replace the tree," he said.
No Consumers, city or township officials have ever raised issues or safety concerns about the tree before it got marked for trimming.