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Vandal attempts to cut down Covington community tree in roundabout, causing significant damage, but Holiday Tree Lighting event will go on

In the early morning hours Saturday a vandal sawed into Covington's community tree in the Don Henning Roundabout on 168th Place near Fred Meyer.

Covington was planning on hosting its annual Holiday Tree Lighting event later on Saturday and according to a statement released by the city, the event will go on despite the damage the 35-foot-tall Spruce suffered.

According to information provided by the city, Covington police responded to a call around 5:30 a.m. that someone was reportedly trying to saw down the tree. When officers arrived on the scene the suspect was gone, however, a metal wedge and sign were left behind.

“We’re going to try to do everything we can to recover evidence from the items,” said Covington police officer Kyle Riches in a statement.

Bill Fealy, an arborist and maintenance crew member for the city, said the cut which appeared to have been made with a hand saw went through 80 percent of the tree trunk.

“That damage is a death sentence," Fealy said in a statement.

Public works employees have secured the tree so the event can continue, but, the tree will have to come down afterward. The tree's value is estimated at about $10,000 and other costs could be added including the labor related to the work done after the damage was discovered and what will need to happen once the tree comes down.

“It is sad that someone would be responsible for such a selfish act in a season that’s all about giving. I know this community won’t let it dampen their spirit,” said Covington Mayor Margaret Harto in a release.

Harto will provide opening remarks for the tree lighting event this evening which is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

City staff expects they will need to replace the 3,000 lights used for the holiday event as well as the LEDs used for the Purple Light Nights tree lighting which kicks off the annual domestic violence awareness event in Covington. Those lights in particular were paid for by donations and money will have to be raised to replace them.

In addition to Harto's remarks, the event will include an introduction of the citizen and honorary citizen of the year, a solo singing performance, community caroling, kids crafts, Santa riding in on a fire truck and a performance by the Emerald City Ringers bell choir.

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