The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland on December 10, 1997 · Page 2
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The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland · Page 2

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Wednesday, December 10, 1997
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Page 2a : Wednesday, December 10, 1997 : The Sun c Sun Journal A tree grows in Christmas: 'wer.r, which thrive in the alpine climate of the Blue Ridge Mountains, have become t increasingly popular Jtoliday symbols. it7- 'i $y Wade Rawlins .'fBjp BCIAL TO THE SUN WEST JEFFERSON, N.C. u Thought about getting a Christ-v.8)as tree yet? ' u; Ron Hudler has been thinking i about Christmas trees for 11 .) months ever since last Christen riias, in fact. Hudler has a half-mil--flion of them growing on 14 farms lf, that dot this scenic sweep of the Southern Appalachian mountains. ,3- Hudler walks slowly across a 4 .gravel lot past a red farm wagon on which a half-dozen laborers are sprawled, napping. They sit up on ..ejbows as he approaches. "Don't get up on my account," . gudler says. "We were here until "midnight last night loading trees." Right now is the busy season in '' Christmas tree country the cul-'.rnination of the annual cycle of " planting and pruning. The phone 'rings persistently at Hudler Carolina Tree Farm. One customer '"wants to pick up 5,000 trees 10 days t ahead of schedule. Out in the .''fields, a tree baler has blown a mo- tor, and another has snapped its cables, bringing harvesting to a -temporary halt. V'7f,-Asked to explain the simple -pleasures of tree farming, Hudler says, between phone calls, "This is a, .bad time to ask that question. ,You should call me when I'm ski-ipg." Since early November, Hudler .?and other western North Carolina powers have been tagging, trim-nng, cutting and hauling trees to hjive them on retail lots when people get in the mood to start hang-. ing ornaments. The bundled trees 'jean together in holding pens, 1 grouped by size, awaiting shipment across the country. fr-' ' North Carolina is one of the nation's top Christmas tree producing states, along with Oregon, Michigan,'Wisconsin, Pennsylvania -Mid California. It ranks second be-nind Oregon with 6 million trees harvested annually, the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association says. Nearly all Christmas trees grown commercially here are Fras-er firs, a native species. The Fraser thrives in the alpine climate of the Blue Ridge Mountains, from southern Virginia to western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. Intolerant of heat, it grows naturally only at elevations above 4,500 feet. The trees have a dark green, almost bluish cast, a spiky appearance, a resinous fragrance and soft needles that are silvery on the underside. Most of the state's 2,500 Christmas tree growers raise their crops in a dozen counties along the Appalachian spine from Asheville to the Virginia line. The rocky soil and cool nighttime temperatures make for ideal growing conditions. Drive the twisting, brake-stomping mountain roads of Ashe County and behold. Row upon row of Frasers sweep up the sides of every cultivated mountain like evergreen battalions on the march. "In the mountains, it's the best 783-1800 Baltimore, Anne Arundel 268-7736, Carroll Additional SUNDIAL9 topics can be found throughout the paper. Look STOCKS 2000 BUSINESS & FINANCE 3000 Financial Headline 3001 Slock Market Update 3002 NEWS 3012 SPORTS 5000 NBA 5002 NHL 5004 MOVIES 6250 SUN NEWS EXTRA 6500 r i Pays For Your Paper m n a '" -," "lZ: X',-" v ''.- vlK 'f ?'S:"i7" , -,-- 7- I f-B i , f , r , . ; AirrW V ' ' A h ' '-'i v. A' A ' i MM ft Not a forest, but a farm: Ron Hudler (right) has grown and sold Christmas trees since 1981. About 500,000 grow on his farm in North Carolina. Now is the busy season for Hudler's Carolina Tree Farm, as workers scramble to load, trees. thing you can do with your land," Hudler says. "I've watched with great fascination the tree business just explode." A former General Motors Corp. vice president, Hudler, 63, sports a silver ponytail and drives a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He planted his first 5,000 trees in Michigan in 1981 as a sort of let's-see proposition. Four years later, he set out a crop in North Carolina and soon moved back to the mountains, where his parents grew up. His three sons, all in their 30s, have moved here to join the business. "It's good, honest work," says Fred Hudler, 34, who quit his job writing automotive catalogs for an ad agency. "You sleep well at night, although right now no one is getting enough sleep." This year, Hudler Tree Farm will harvest more than 100,000 trees, or about 200 tractor-trailer loads, making the tree farm one of the state's larger growers. In 1995, Hudler presented the official White House Christmas tree. This year he sent a 19-foot tree to the new George Bush Presidential Library. North Carolina Fraser firs have been judged the nation's best in a contest sponsored by the National Christmas Tree Association and have been chosen as the official White House Christmas tree eight times. "That's more than any other state," says Pat Wilkie, executive director of the N.C. Christmas Tree Association. "We're quite proud of that." This year, another North Caroli Kmmmm MD LOTTERY 6020 SOAP OPERAS 7600 HOROSCOPES 7630 SENIORS 7800 WEATHER 4000 BaltimoreMetro 4003 BeachMountains 4030 For travel weather updates, dial 783-1800, press 8 followed by the first three letters of that city, for example, Boston is 8267 Atlantic City, Harrisburg and New Orleans are exceptions. Press 81 followed by the first two letters. Today's coupon value: $35.00 Uok here ever)' day for a "Sun Super Saver" coupon with a value equal to or greater than (he cost of your Baltimore Sun newspaper. North Carolina na family, Sanford and Deborah Fishel of Grassy Creek, presented the official tree to the White House. The Fishels grow trees on about 500 acres in Ashe County, N.C, and Grayson and Smith counties in Virginia. "Having a Fraser fir in the White House this year is a dream come true for our family," says Deborah Fishel, who also is providing a 16-foot tree for the first family's private quarters. Frasers have become increasingly popular and now account for about 15 percent of the 35 million Christmas trees sold nationally. "Frasers have really taken off because they are being grown in a lot of different places, not just North Carolina," says Kathy Ole-jnik, a spokeswoman for the National Christmas Tree Association in Milwaukee. As their popularity has increased, so has the size of North Carolina's Christmas tree industry. It has grown from an estimated 200,000 trees in production in 1959 to about 50 million in 1997, said Craig McKinley, state Christmas tree specialist at North Carolina State University. Until the 1950s, nearly all Christmas trees came from forests. Today, about 98 percent are grown on farms. Nationally, Americans will buy about 35 million natural Christmas trees this year. But sales of real Christmas trees have flattened out in recent years. Olejnik said families are the primary purchasers of real trees. Senior citizens often use artificial 848-0338, Harford 836-5028 for tlTe sun! (!' Finance & Money Mortgage Rates 3100 Mortgage Calculation line 3199 Peremel Investment Hotline with Fax-on-Demand, Directory 9010 Sports Activities Baltimore Sun Apartment Search Hotline 7368 Lively Arts 6030 Valley View Farms Garden Hotline 6004 In-home wall-to-wall carpet estimate Universal Carpet 1MMI8 Yellow lirick Itoad, Suite I (near Golden Kin); Mall) 4I(l-574-4(i(l(l Only I (imimmi per person mt vlsll may he used. Kxpiivs 121(1" trees, which require less heavy lifting and hauling. "As the aging of the population occurs, you have people falling into the category of going to an artificial tree," Olejnik said. A Christmas tree takes about a dozen years to reach a retail height of six to seven feet. The trees start as seedlings. After three years in a nursery, when the trunks are still as thin as pencil leads, the 6-inch-tall seedlings are moved to transfer beds. After two more years of nurturing, they're set out in fields to grow until they're harvested. Growers estimate that it costs about $1.50 for a seedling, about 75 cents to $1 a year for care and fertilizing and another $2.50 to harvest a single tree. Trees sell wholesale for $17 to $20. The trees get trimmed by hand every year, starting in the fourth year. By pruning rapid upward growth, farmers try to encourage the tree to branch more quickly and take on the bushy appearance that most people want in a Christmas tree. Just as Jim Trayner has done for seven years, he drove a truck from Louisville, Ky., right before Thanksgiving to get a load of Christmas trees to sell at his produce stand. "Right in this area is the best grown Frasers in the country," Trayner says. "They're trying to grow them in Kentucky. But no one can grow the Frasers like North Carolina." Nationwide is Gift Headauarters! I X""'-;, Motorola J "1 rj rft- Nfitianwide's Spec in t Offer., 0150 Off ANY CUular Phone with t activation Cellular .,! Call about FREE delivery of your phone to your home or office! TIMONIUM PASADENA 410-560-3400 410-544-6300 Ibtl Free: 1-88S-S8-CELL-1 Toll Free: 1-S00-764-7451 Visit us on the Internet at: http:www.nationwideauto.com Larger Haii 'ri value Vrni apprwal and rw wta-rttMi rejutsl Ofe may varr by r pbi brhAtp frtr I'm lung ffiurct in prr m nrnwn aiuiaryt warns wmrarduua are mwr nwn-i mo resu-iiMb tm kalrdkfri(k$pnja)(Mi hjupmmt mav ran by laifi. tar attrv-diui bv nuhUn retrie tin Mximilr Muhlr atrr IWIaaysof weilrmiplni xrm lh (Ma On. S I) IS ftm-dfa. thf fBiiainm? cuntrart Imn WW a! SI t.S i ptr mwlh. Saiivtmi nnirtid rfTtmrort home knr cA afy (lfl(Tritil2Mjft7-Phcrctfni)om Ml i klmmrl ( fitr Ciupn musl br pmrnlai 4 tmr of sale Not valid Wh other ottumh tr priur wit bpra Him. pagTitfmA actn'alioii (re ntfured. (HVrsmd 121 W. National Digest In Washington Welfare recipients lace high odds against ;etting good jobs Welfare recipients face 97-1 odds against landing a job that will give them a decent standard of living, a workers' rights group contends in a study released yesterday. "Those are some pretty bad odds, and they call into question the whole intent of this so-called welfare reform," said Mark Weis-brot, research director of the Preamble Center for Public Policy, which conducted the study. The report was released by Jobs With Justice, a workers' rights group that is organizing labor activists, community advocates and church members in 50 cities today to protest welfare reform and call on government and the private sector to create more jobs. Pilot error is blamed in B-l crash in Montana The fiery Sept. 19 crash of a U.S. B-l bomber in Montana with the loss of all four crewmen was caused by pilot error, the Air Force said in a report released yesterday. But investigators could not determine which of two pilots was flying the supersonic, swing-wing bomber when it slammed into the ground on a training mission from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. In the nation Some defibrillators have programming error INDIANAPOLIS New defibrillators implanted in the chests of about 2,000 Americans need to be adjusted because a few of them have a programming error that can make the heart race, the manufacturer told the Food and Drug Administration on Monday. No deaths have been linked to the Ventak AV, sold by Indianapolis-based Guidant Corp. The problem might be life-threatening under certain circumstances, one doctor said, but another said that was unlikely. Doctors can adjust the devices' programming without opening the chest by using a radio transmitter. Shipping company must pay $18 million for fouling coast SANTA ANA, Calif. A shipping company responsible for an oil spill that fouled 15 miles of coastline was ordered to pay $18 million, including $13 million for the public's lost enjoyment of the beach. A jury awarded the damages Monday against Attransco, owner of the American Trader. The tanker was moored off Huntington Beach in 1990 when 416,598 gallons of oil spilled. Much of it ended up on Orange County beaches. Student dies, 7 are hurt in Illinois college fire GREENVILLE, 111. One student died and seven others were injured in the fire early yesterday Your HoM . Cardt gift for everyone on it, Tr " '.t 1 four shopping llst...al CZLrt iui he lowest price! If j"" t'lmMnJJLm Ind a belter price, K"'u3L-f'tl'l!-l-ll.l mmsmm Nationwide Mobile Communications Holiday Hours: Mon. -Krf: 9am-8pm Saturday: 9am4pm Sunday NoonSpm BEL AIR ELLICOTT CITY 410-515-0800 410-480-0200 Toll Free: 1-800-544-6218 Toll Free: 1-888-94-COl-l local canine area at no extra cost added rate plans , Nfiia 6i8 phot. 12 Off fata 5f AT-,' XII at Greenville College in this southwestern Illinois town. "I watched the door light on fire, then the computer, then the stereo. That's when I started hauling," said Ed Conkle, 19. The fire apparently began in a lounge area next to Conkle's room. The college identified the dead student as Joel Pierce, 22, of Warren, N.H. The junior was scheduled to be married Dec. 20. Man convicted of killing girlfriend's three sons CAMBRIDGE, Mass. A jury rejected an insanity defense yesterday and convicted a man of fatally shooting his girlfriend's three sons in the head. Vuthy Seng, 34, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to three life terms. A fourth child, now 16, escaped and recovered from a gunshot wound in the head. She was the prosecution's key witness. Relatives said Seng was angry after his girlfriend told him to move out of her apartment because her children didn't like him. She left the children alone with Seng after the couple argued. Mob boss feigning illness, federal judge in N.Y. rules NEW YORK Convicted mob boss Vincent "Chin" Gigante is faking mental illness and can be sentenced to prison rather than a mental hospital, a federal judge has ruled. "Defendant has been consistently feigning insanity for many years and is still doing so in a shrewd attempt to avoid punishment for his crimes," U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein said Monday. Gigante, 69, is a longtime chief of New York's powerful Genovese crime family. He was convicted in July of murder conspiracy and racketeering. He could receive as much as 27 years in prison at his Dec. 18 sentencing. Ramsey family's friends are asked about their shoes BOULDER, Colo. Investigators in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case are asking friends of the family whether they own certain shoes with distinctive soles. One of those questioned was Pam Griffin, who made many of JonBenet's beauty pageant outfits. "The police came a couple of weeks ago and asked us if we ever owned shoes called SAS or Hi-Tec," she said. One detective told Griffin and her teen-age daughter, who baby-sat for JonBenet, that the shoes had distinctive sole patterns. Other Ramsey friends also have been asked about Hi-Tecs within the last six months, according to the Rocky Mountain News. From wire reports Correction An article in Monday's editions of The Sun erroneously referred to the marital status of Phillip Weaver Jr., the father of a 3y2-year-old White Marsh girl who wounded herself while playing with his handgun. Weaver is not married. The Sun regrets the error. ion&J3n mi-Jim r - JR.? J. Brown T . Since 1410 Jewelers 318 North Charles Street, Baltimore 410-685-8010 1802 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville i 410-484-3388 a Outside Maryland 1-800-359-7100 g rri il .n mil m 'I'

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