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After 58 years towering over airport, familiar water tank taken down

After 58 years towering over airport, familiar water tank taken down

Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2008 9:16 pm
By: John Brannon Messenger Staff Reporter

By JOHN BRANNON Messenger Staff Reporter Built in 1950 by Chicago Bridge & Iron, a tall water tank at Everett-Stewart Regional Airport stood the test of time well over 50 years. A familiar feature on the airport skyline, its huge tank — capacity 75,000 gallons — sported a unique paint job. Alternating squares of white and “big orange” mimicked the official colors of the Tennessee Volunteers football field endzone. For years the old structure performed a dual duty. It served both as a distributor of water to airport outlets and as a high spire, atop which was mounted a 36-inch beacon that flashed white and green during hours of darkness and other times of diminished light. It was functional, it was colorful and it was as recognizable as windsocks on the flightline. But no more. All that it ever was has been relegated to the history books of Obion County aviation. About 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, the 100-foot tower and the water tank supported by four steel cylindrical legs came crashing down, falling exactly where a crew from A&J Salvage of Troy said it would. Earlier that morning, a crew from Gibson Electric Membership Corp. dismantled some nearby power lines to provide a clear fall line for the tower. After the fall, the only task ahead for the salvage company was to cut the whole works into small pieces and haul them off. Airport manager Jo Ann Speer said A&J did the job for the scrap metal it would produce. Mrs. Speer said the old structure had to come down. “It’s a maintenance issue,” she said. “The rotating beacon on top of it stopped rotating. The tower is a violation of air space unless the beacon is rotating. So when it stopped rotating, something had to be done.” A little history: • On Nov. 7, 1967, a letter from Union City city manager W.D. Frizzell stated that the Obion County Airport Commission had turned the airport water system over to the city to manage. • In 1962, there was discussion and negotiations between the Town of Obion and the airport commission for Obion to buy the water tank and move it there. But nothing came of it. • On May 29, 2000, Union City Manager Don Thornton sent the airport commission a letter stating the tank was to be disconnected from the water distribution center. • On June 16, 2000, the Union City Water Department formally took the airport water tank off water service. The tower remained in service for a while because of the rotating beacon mounted atop the tank. “The tank hasn’t been used in several years,” Mrs. Speer said. “The rotating beacon quit, and it had to come down. We will erect a new 75-foot tower and place a new refurbished beacon on top of it. “I kind of hate to see it go. It’s been part of this airport for so many years.” Published in The Messenger 7.2.08

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