By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — Cher made the song “Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves” a No. 1 hit in 1971.

In today’s society, said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart, “gypsys, tramps and thieves” will come into communities and try to take advantage of people who need trees trimmed and asphalt poured.

“If you need trees trimmed or cut down, and you don’t want to do it yourself, always hire someone local who you know,” said Lenhart. “The (Sidney-Shelby County) Chamber of Commerce has members who are professional tree trimmers.

“When hiring someone, make sure they are insured, bonded and are local,” he said.

Workers who travel from state to state during the spring and summer seasons may not be the best person for the job.

“People coming into the state and county from another area like to bait and switch when doing the work. They might tell you they’ll do it for ‘x’ amount of dollars and halfway through the job, they might raise the price.

“Or they might distract the homeowner and go into the houses” with an eye of taking items,” he said. “Or they might just do shabby work.”

If you plan on doing the tree trimming or tree removal yourself, Lenhart has offered some safety tips for the project.

“There were 500,000 falls from a ladder or roof reported last year,” said Lenhart. “Six thousand people died from the fall. Eleven percent of the people were electrocuted because they were working too close to electrical wires around the trees, house and bushes.”

Safety tips offered by Lenhart include:

• Always wear a hard hat, leather gloves and close-fitting clothing.

• Do pre-work assessment of the job required to trim the tree and bushes or to cut it down. Make sure you have the proper gear and equipment to do the job.

“Some of the branches may be dead and the winds of winter broke them off. The limbs may be still be in the tree and you should watch for them falling out of the tree once you start trimming,” said Lenhart.

• Pay attention to the weather. It’s its windy, wet or icy, postpone the work until another day.

• Have someone with you at all times. They can help hold the ladder and pass equipment up to you instead of trying to climb the ladder while holding the tools.

• Position the ladder correctly. The feet of the ladder should be placed firmly on the ground. If the ladder is 12 foot tall, then the ladder feet should be three to four feet apart.

• Use steel or aluminum ladders instead of wooden ladders. “With a wood ladder, you can’t tell if the wood is rotting or deteriorating,” said Lenhart.

• Place the ladder up against the strongest part of the tree and make sure the ladder is level on the ground.

• Don’t lean while you’re trimming the limbs of the tree. Have the ladder set up so, if you’re right-handed, the ladder is close to the limbs to be trimmed.

• Make sure the saws you are using are not too heavy to do the work. The lighter the saw, the better you’ll be able to control it while cutting the limbs.

• Use the three-touch method while on a ladder. Make sure both feet and one hand is on the ladder at all times. Never stand on the ladder with neither hand on the ladder.

• A tripod ladder, he said, is a good investment if you are trimming a lot of trees.

• Don’t use conductive tools near a power line. Avoid all contact with power lines.

• Inspect the tree and limbs for cracks and weakness. Ash trees, he said, are usually rotten and unstable.

• When going up the ladder, go one step at a time. Take your time and move one hand, one foot, then the other hand and foot.

Most importantly, said Lenhart, take your time when trimming trees and bushes so you don’t become an injury statistic.

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.