By Chris Wendt
Published in The Rose Hill Reporter, March 19, 2009
Young and old alike turned out to witness the fall of one of Rose Hill’s famous landmarks on Sunday afternoon, March 15, 2009.
Everyone wanted to be able to say that they were there on the day that the original Rose Hill water tower came tumbling down behind the Rose Hill Bank located at 107 N. Rose Hill Rd.
Mayor Mark Conway called a special city council meeting on Thursday, March 12, to approve the removal of the old tower. Council members Tamera Potter, Matt Bates, and Rob Curtis were in attendance as well as Public Works Director Kirk Hayden, Police Officer Kent Karlen and acting secretary Cindy Stone.
The company contracted for the job was coming through town on its way to another site and could do it Sunday, March 15, for an extremely reasonable price tag of $8,500. A bid was given in 2001 for $48,000. The motion was carried in a unanimous vote.
The tower was dropped to the south onto the property of Ethel Cox with the wind and weather cooperating as if on cue. It was hard to tell which was louder, the crash or the cheering. The old tower had been out of operation since 2001 and the city had agreed to remove it when the property was sold to Rose Hill Bank for extra parking space several years ago.
A crowd had gathered across the street at Dicks Mid Town where a BBQ party was in progress in honor of the occasion. The rest of the town was camped out in Matt Bates’ back yard to watch the show. Cameras and videos were going everywhere to record the historical happening.
Conway had his video camera going also. “You wouldn’t see people turn out like this in Wichita but in small town U.S.A. it can happen. It becomes a community event because people remember when it went up. They want to be here when it goes down.”
“It has been here a long time,” said Hayden. “The looks of the landscape will definitely be changed with it gone.” The tower was scheduled to come down at 2 p.m. but was still standing as was half of the town. Speculation was rife as to when it would actually topple and where.
“It came down within a foot of the drop zone, just where we wanted it. It took out a couple of small trees but that was already planned. It went just perfectly, despite the anchor bolts that were more stubborn than anticipated and delayed the drop time to 3:05 p.m.,” said Hayden.
According to Karen Royal, her father Shorty Cox, was in charge of the water tower and pump station when it was built. “The only way to tell the water level was by the float indicator on the outside of the tower. If it got stuck you had an over flow problem. He also drove the buses and they were parked here on the property. If you had a flow problem in the middle of the night in the winter, they would get covered in ice said Royal.
Conway was very quick Sunday to give acting City Administrator, Kathy Raney, credit for getting the project completed as well as the council and the city.
“Raney did all of the research, contacted other counties, checked out companies and conferred with Hayden and all the entities involved. I had nothing to do with it other than to ask her to check it out. She got behind it like a steam locomotive and ran it down the track to the end of the line,” said Conway as he gestured to the fallen 25 ton colossus on the ground.
Preferred Tank and Tower Company out of Henderson KY, orchestrated the felling of the 115 foot, 50,000 gallon tower, which had been erected in 1960, as was stated on the plaque on the stump of the main stand pipe. As part of the contract, they will return to cut up and remove the tower and sell it out as scrap to a company in Wichita.