Tippecanoe Valley works to save historic tree at Mentone Elementary

The Tippecanoe Valley School Board is hearing local concerns about the historical value of a bald cypress tree that stands on the west side of Mentone Elementary.

There had been ongoing discussion on the possibility of removing the tree. The portion of the school built in 1967 has a flat roof. When needles drop from the tree in the fall, they are blown to the school roof and clog the drainage to the point that there is standing water.

Before proceeding with cutting down the tree, Superintendent Brett Boggs sought out the history of the tree. Boggs said when he learned of the historical significance to the community, a decision to keep the tree standing was made.

The Times Union reports 75-year-old tree was brought to Indiana from Florida by former Mentone School Principal Dale Kelley in the early ’40s. It was then planted by agricultural teacher Pat Harrison and his students as a part of an Arbor Day celebration.

Appearing before the board were Lee Markley, president of the Mentone High School Alumni; Tim Croy, member of the Mentone Town Council; and Linda Cochran, Mentone historian.

Markley said the alumni has raised nearly $300 to erect a plaque near the tree commemorating its history. Markley said they do not have a quote on the cost, but said the Manwaring family has volunteered to donate any more funds that would be needed. The alumni group also plans to have a picture and signage of the tree inside the school building.

After the meeting, Boggs said the maintenance staff will clean away debris on a regular basis to alleviate the flooding problem.

According to Markley, there are only two other bald cypress trees in the area. He said one is on Winona Avenue, Winona Lake, and a second on the road between Leesburg and Tippecanoe Lake. Bald cypress trees are rare in northern Indiana since they are usually found in wet areas such as swamps.