A nine-year-old Poteau girl takes on city hall in an effort to save an old elm tree where she often reads in the shade. The tree is the part of the future site of the public library, but it’ll remain standing for many years to come thanks to Jenny Waldrep.
"I just sit out there and read, but then they were thinking about tearing it down, so I wanted to save it," said Jenny.
Jenny stays at her family’s business most of the summer. Next to the business, is the old elm tree where she often reads. It was slated to be cut down Wednesday, according to Mayor Jeff Shockley.
"I put a sign out there and stuck it on there and the next day, there's another sign there," said Jenny.
The sign reads ‘save the tree.’” It soon caught the attention of contractors and city officials.
"When I got down here and saw what it said, I thought somebody wants to save the tree, great, that'll put a wrench in my project," said contractor Mark Leitch.
But the nine-year-old's passion became contagious. Her sign even comes with a recommendation to put benches underneath the tree for people to enjoy reading at the new library.
"I've had a couple of calls from citizens offering donations to build the bench," said Mayor Shockley.
She now has the whole city supporting her.
"I thought it was just so cool that she's taking the initiative," said Leitch.
She proves a small girl can make a big difference.
"I'm proud that she's standing up for something that is right, you know, and I said if you'll always do that in life, you'll be ok," said Jenny’s mother Rhonda Waldrep.
Jenny says the experience taught her an important lesson.
"Speak out because that's what freedom is," said Jenny.
The Patrick Lynch Public Library in Poteau is expected to be completed by next year, but now with some shade in the parking lot from the tree.