EAST CLEVELAND - For the last year, Billy Reaves has had to work around a fallen tree that had landed in her community garden in East Cleveland. Now that same tree is finally gone, and she couldn't be happier.
"I've been waiting to finish this land for I don't know how long and the kids are waiting," she said.
The tree had been sitting idle since 2017 when it came crashing down after a storm. She said it was tangled in power lines at the time, which FirstEnergy was quick to repair. What crews didn't address was the mess left behind. She said the trunk was chopped up into massive pieces and branches were everywhere.
"I've called them at least 10 times and begged them to come and clean it up, and he said it wasn't their responsibility," said Reaves.
FirstEnergy told her that tree removal after storms is a property owner's responsibility, not the company's.
"If I was younger, I'd get this up myself," said Reaves. "But I just can't do it anymore."
All that changed on Monday when News 5 discovered a landscaping crew and their chipper at the property to remove the entire tree.
"They said, 'Well we're doing the land right there,' and I'm like, 'Yes!" she recalls.
A FirstEnergy spokesperson says after News 5 told them about Reaves plan for the plot of land, the company decided to make an exception since she is trying to make her community a better place.
"Now I'll be finished with this before the wintertime gets here," she said with a smile.
The FirstEnergy spokesperson went on to say this doesn't change its policy, and that property owners are still responsible for trees that come down during storms on their land.
But now, the path is clear for Reaves to finish what she started.