Water tower reflects spirit of school, city [UPDATED]Published 10:59am Tuesday, October 15, 2013 Updated 10:59am Tuesday, October 15, 2013
One down, one to go.
Workers in the city of Perham recently finished repainting one of the water towers, a project for which planning began this winter. On the other hand, an expansion of the city’s wastewater treatment facility, which has been planned since 2009, is still underway but is scheduled to be completed by the end of the month.
The 500,000-gallon water tower was last painted a decade ago and was in need of a new coat. But instead of going with a basic design, city officials wanted to get more creative this time around.
The result: a black-and-yellow tank with the Perham-Dent Public School’s Yellowjacket logo painted on it.
The idea of a more unique design was kicked around during the last repainting, but Perham CIty Manager Kelcey Klemm said this time there was a greater desire to go with a different look.
“We figured it was time to do something different,” Klemm said.
Klemm first came up with the idea of featuring the school colors earlier this year. He sent the idea to Ryan Stigman, a graphic designer at KLN Family Brands, who worked up a design that was exactly what Klemm was thinking.
“That was his initial design and we didn’t change a whole lot after that because he pretty much nailed what we wanted,” Klemm said.
The tank’s new coat cost $133,000, which will be paid for by city water fees.
Both Klemm and city Economic Development Director Chuck Johnson heard some early concerns about the black paint possibly overheating the water, but Johnson said water moves so fast through the tank that such a situation would be impossible.
For now, the creative approach to the tank seems to have paid off. Klemm has gotten lots of positive feedback about the Yellowjacket look, and the tank is one of the nominees for Tnemec Company, Inc.’s 2013 “Tank of the Year.” Tnemec is a architectural and industrial coating company based out of Kansas City.
Voting for the “Tank of the Year” can be done on Tnemec’s website and is open through Friday.
The wastewater treatment facility expansion, on the other hand, has been years in the making. The city first applied for federal funding from the Economic Development Administration in 2010, but was denied. The next year, the city again submitted a funding request to the EDA for $2.4 million, which was approved later that year.
But paperwork and construction bids held up the start date, which was initially set for spring 2012. Construction began in November 2012 and is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
For Johnson, the long wait will be worth it for the improved facilities.
“Every piece of it is brand new and it’s more efficient and it has more capacity,” Johnson said.
The $6 million project features a new, 20-acre holding pond and a completely redone aeration system. The original aeration system was 24 years old and the other three holding ponds were being pushed to their capacity, and sometimes past it, during the winter, according to Johnson.
“These ponds become especially important during the winter because they have to store water from freeze up to thaw,” he said.
Federal and state grants account for $3.1 million of the project’s funding, while the other $2.9 million is in the form of a low-interest loan to be paid off by what Klemm called “pretty modest” increases in utility rates.
During construction, there has been an odor problem in the city, which Klemm said has been the topic of many complaints to his office. The problems come from a lack of air to the holding ponds, which became worse when ice come off the ponds in spring.
But a media campaign aimed at informing Perham residents about the status of the project and what was being done to combat the odor eased many people’s minds.
Klemm said the city will be able to hold almost twice as much wastewater with the addition of the new pond, approaching close to 1 million gallons per day.