Christmas Tree Tops List of PC Purchases

PANAMA CITY - For years the city has used a magnolia tree at the entrance to the downtown marina as the city's Christmas tree, but that tree is now gone - a victim of the the marina renovation project.

Now, city commissioners are trying to replace it and they've decided to go the artificial route. Monday night, they considered bids for the tree. One bid came in at a little more than $22,000 for a 34-foot tree with lights, decorations and music - as well as the option to add on in the future. The lowest bidder was $2,000 cheaper with lights, but didn't include all the extras.

"Do we have to take the low bid because it's the low bid," said Jane Lindsey with the Downtown Improvement Board, "or do we want to make that little bit better investment and make it something that we will be proud of and bring people down to Panama City?"

Apparently Lindsey's encouragement worked. Commissioners approved the higher bid but will also give the lower bidder the opportunity to provide the same services at the lower price. They'll decide the issue in a meeting Wednesday morning.