Family plans to donate wood from fallen oak to high school program

If the trunk and upper sections of the Oregon white oak that toppled over March 30 at Second Avenue and Madison Street are healthy and free of nails, close to 2,000 board feet could be headed to woodshop classes at Albany’s high schools.

“In finished lumber, that would be worth about $10,000,” said Mark Azevedo, a member of the city’s tree commission.

Property owners Dick Clarke and his wife Gloria Owen are donating much of the tree to the Sawing for Schools program at South and West Albany high schools. The rest will go to firewood.

The couple watched Friday as a crew from Big Wood Tree Expert Co. of Corvallis cut apart the tree that fell onto their recreation outbuilding about 2:20 p.m. Friday, March 30.

The salvageable parts of the tree will be loaded onto a log truck probably on Monday and taken to the Kenagy Family Farm in North Albany, where it will be stored under trees until next winter, Azevedo said. Then the tree will be sliced open and cut into quarters.

At that point, students will saw the lumber and stack it at both schools, and that fall it will go to the Oregon State University Forestry Program where it will be dried in kilns and then returned to the schools.

The whole process will take a couple of years.

Clarke said he learned about the schools’ wood programs Wednesday morning after working out at the Albany Community Pool at South Albany High School.

“When I saw they were cutting lumber (as part of Arbor Week activities), I walked over and saw Mark,” he said. “I told him I had a situation at the house and didn’t want the entire tree to go for firewood.”

Clarke knew Azevedo through the city’s Heritage Tree program. Clarke learned his tree, estimated to be between 150 and 200 years old and part of the old Burkhart Grove, made the list only after falling over.

Clarke and Owen’s son, Richard Clarke III, 23, was in the rec room when he heard tree branches brush against the outbuilding. He tried to open the metal door leading to the outside but the bolt was stuck.

He found a hammer and beat on the bolt until he could pry open the door, escaping just seconds before the tree crashed onto the building.

Part of the tree hit a bedroom that was added on to the family’s 102-year-old house sometime in the 1950s.

Dick Clarke and his wife were vacationing at Eagle Crest when they got the call about the tree. They immediately returned home.

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