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Evergreens selected for Capitol displays

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ronald Fisher knew something needed to be done to the white pine that was growing precariously closer to his front porch in Charleston, so he's letting the state show it off.

Fisher has donated the 25-foot tree as one of three natural trees that will be used for holiday displays this year at the Capitol Complex. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will lead a lighting ceremony Dec. 3 as part of the annual Joyful Night celebration.

Fisher and his wife, Juanita, inherited the tree when the couple moved into their home three years ago.

He tried to get the state to use the tree for display last year but was told it wasn't tall enough. But officials came calling this year.

"It's kind of getting close to our front porch. It's not touching it yet, but it's close," Fisher said. "My wife kind of thinks it doesn't need to be there."

Fisher said he never decorated the tree around the holidays because it would have required him to use a ladder. But he plans to take his two grandchildren to see how it looks illuminated on the Capitol grounds.

"More people can look at it there than they can here," Fisher said.

Fisher's tree will be used around the north fountain at the Capitol.

And for the second consecutive year, the other two trees are from the Fayette County farm of Al Tolliver. One, a 25-foot Canaan fir, will be lit at the south fountain. The other is a 14-foot Fraser fir that will be decorated at the Governor's Mansion.

The Fraser fir was donated on behalf of the West Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association, of which Tolliver is a board member. Tolliver also had a Christmas tree from his farm sent to the Governor's Mansion in 2011.

Tolliver said trees typically used for the outdoor displays at the Capitol are trimmed for a symmetrical shape, while those at the Governor's Mansion aren't trimmed and are selected for their unique shapes.

Tolliver said he's never seen his trees all lit up and decorated at the Capitol Complex, including the Governor's Mansion. He's too busy spreading Christmas cheer to others by selling trees from his retail shop at Charleston's farmers market.

Besides, no one's asked him to go.

"I haven't received an invitation," he said. "It would be a little bit of a conflict, but I'm sure we could take care of that if we were to be invited. We typically see pictures and obviously we get nice thank-you letters from the governor and his wife, so there's not a problem there. They're very gracious."

A spokeswoman for Tomblin didn't return a telephone message about a possible invitation for Tolliver.

In addition to selling Christmas trees for $7 a foot at the farmers market, Tolliver's Crickmer Farms in Danese allows families to choose and cut their own trees at $5 per foot.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, real trees annually far outsell artificial ones.

"We're certainly trying to make everyone aware of the tree growers in West Virginia," Tolliver said. "This is a way for us to promote that activity and industry."


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