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Posted: November 21, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Governor's tree has Newton roots

Resident to donate tree for Christmas ceremony

By Gabriel Khouli/

Getting ready to move: JoAnn Sims and her son, Tim, stand in front of the tree that will be decorated and lit at the Governor's Mansion in December.

In 1980, JoAnn Sims dug up a 1-foot pine tree from the forest and moved it to a pot. Thirty years later, the tree is nearly twice as tall as her house and will soon find itself in front of the Governor's Mansion, where it will play a part in the annual state tree lighting ceremony.

"It's the thrill of my life. I never thought that would happen. I'm happy for it to be shown somewhere. It's pretty sitting here, but I'll never be able to decorate it," Sims said. "Though, I'll probably cry when it comes down."

Sims, who lives on Ga. Highway 142 North, said she saw the ceremony last year and thought her tree was worthy of being included, so she called the Georgia Building Authority and offered to donate her tree. The group came out and examined it and told her they would be happy to have it. The tree will be cut down the day before Thanksgiving.

Building authority spokeswoman Katy Pandow said every year residents donate trees to be placed at the capital and at the governor's mansion. While several trees are placed inside the mansion, Pandow said Sims' large tree will be given the place of honor in front of the governor's home.

The tree lighting ceremony will be held at the mansion, 391 West Paces Ferry Road N.W. in Atlanta, at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5. The mansion will be open for public tours Dec. 6-17. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays.

For more information, call (404) 261-1776, or see



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