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The sign is installed in its permanent location, angled to be seen from the street. Photo submitted

The Dixie Fire, a damaged tree and a new sign for Greenville Elementary

By Cary Dingel

Plumas Unified School District

Last week, a new custom log sign was installed at Greenville Elementary School (GES), bringing many comments and questions from folks wondering where the log came from, and who made the sign replacing the original that burned in the Dixie Fire.

When Greenville students needed a safe place to attend school last year following the fire, the Taylorsville site was repurposed from an Outdoor Education center to hosting classrooms of Kindergartners through sixth-graders. The students were able to retain friendships with other local students and teachers, providing a sense of continuity during a time of uncertainty.

The students especially loved recess time on the new play structure which sat in the shade of a large sequoia. While the front of the tree was full and green, the back of the tree was bare branches.

Sadly, this summer, that sequoia was determined by arborists to be sick, and needed to be taken down. A decision was made to salvage the intact part of the tree to use as material for the GES replacement sign.

Superintendent of Schools William Roderick explains, “Using that sequoia is symbolic because it was an everyday part of the students’ life, watching over them while at the Taylorsville campus and now it’s at Greenville Elementary, something they will see every day.”

Mike Murphy, a skilled chainsaw sculptor from West Almanor, created the sign with a chainsaw and an angle grinder. While a sequoia that is still green is extremely difficult to de-bark and carve, especially around multiple branches and knots, Murphy ultimately delivered a beautifully crafted log sign that both references the memory of the original sign while bringing a fresh look to the front of the school. “The tree was delivered to Mike Murphy on August 10, and the completed sign was installed on August 22, which is a remarkable feat by any measure, and we are so happy with the finished product,” says Superintendent Roderick.

Although the sign that burned in the fire sat between two trees on the front lawn of the GES campus, the new sign was too big to place there. A crew from the Maintenance and Transportation departments from Plumas Unified School District installed the sign in front of the trees at an angle, so it can be seen from the street, welcoming families and staff as they arrive.

Superintendent Roderick says, “Using the sequoia from Taylorsville may not have been the easiest way to do the project, but it’s important to honor the history of the school and the community with this tangible connection.”

Freshly de-barked sequoia log sits on slabs salvaged from the rest of the downed tree. Photo submitted
Close-up of the wood shows areas sectioned for letters to be carved. Photo submitted
Sculptor Mike Murphy of West Almanor onsite at Greenville Elementary for installation. Photo submitted
The crew from PUSD carefully lowers onto its log supports with a boom truck. Photo submitted

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