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COLUMNIST: Towering examples of pride and promotion

Perham garnered a front page spot on an unusual calendar of water tower designs from around the nation, above.1 / 3
The "Home of the Eagles," New York Mills, sports a fresh look for its water tower, following last year's renovation.2 / 3
The Miinnesota lake country town of Pequot Lakes converted its globe-shaped water tower into a red and white color scheme-creating "Paul Bunyan's Fishing Bobber."3 / 3

East Otter Tail is well-represented on a new variation of the old "pin-up girl" calendars.

Both Perham and New York Mills are featured on a slick, glossy 2010 calendar--but these are not photos of pretty girls.

The images are water towers. Dozens of them-from all over the country.

This is a calendar close to the heart of civil engineers, municipal water authorities, city public works guys and polymers, paints and coatings geeks.

Earning a front page spot on the calendar is Perham's new, one million gallon tank and tower-complete with its attractive Perham logo.

On the September page is the New York Mills water tower, renovated last year with its distinct black and white lettering; pine tree art and a soaring eagle-the school's mascot.

The calendar was published by TNEMEC, a company specializing in water tower paint and coating products.

Huge, multi-million gallon, modern towers from all over the nation are pictured. But also featured are some of the old, quaint, small-town towers with tanks of less than 100,000-gallon capacity.

A couple dozen of the colorful calendars were distributed to council members and city staff at recent Perham and New York Mills city council meetings, by-who else would have a fascination with immense tanks containing municipal water-the guys from Ulteig Engineering, which serves NY Mills, Perham and other cities in the area.

There is even a "tank of the year," which I suppose is the equivalent of the "calendar girl of the year." That honor went to a gargantuan two million gallon tower in Dublin, Ohio, which featured an attractive, earth tone color scheme; images of baseball and hockey players; and, of course, a shamrock reflecting the town's Irish name and heritage.

There are towers pictured from Clintonville, Wisconsin; Chesapeake, Virginia; Kansas City, Kansas; Bentonville, Arkansas; and Dilworth and St. Louis Park in Minnesota.

There's a charming tower, converted to a giant teapot, from Spirit Lake, Idaho.

From Wytheville, Virginia, there is a rainbow-colored tower and tank-painted to look like one of those multi-colored hot air balloons on take-off.

Celebrating the bread basket state of Kansas is the Hesston tower, which features stalks of wheat and the town motto "Harvest the Good Life."

There's a red and white, checkerboard-painted tower from Luverne, Alabama, and from the vacation and leisure community of Freeport, Florida, there's a tower with the logo "Hammock Bay."

Water towers have become a way to label and promote communities. Some even sell advertising space, such as the Hodgkins, Illinois, tower which advertises the local Menards store.

In a community where I previously worked, the Pequot Lakes tower needed a paint job. We decided to make a statement...create a statue, of sorts. Heck, Brainerd down the road, and Bemidji and Akely, up the road, had monolithic Paul Bunyan statues. Crosby had a giant dragon, in a park by Serpent Lake. Mille Lacs had the world's largest walleye; and Nevis had the world's largest muskie. Vergas capitalized on the state bird, with the largest loon.

In Pequot, the tank was a perfectly round-shaped globe. So, we painted the tank half red and half white.

The tower company fabricated a large, cylinder shaped plunger, which was painted red and mounted to the top.

Today, Pequot Lakes is known far and wide as the home of "Paul Bunyan's Fishing Bobber."

That was more than 25 years ago.

Interestingly, the small, 50,000-gallon tank became so closely identified with the town, that when the tower became obsolete, the townsfolk chose to continue painting the red and white bobber design-even though it is no longer operational.