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Students given chance to design tower

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe City officials are looking for decoration ideas to be placed on the new water tower in Sibley, Iowa.

SIBLEY, Iowa -- With a new water tower constructed on the south end of town, Water Superintendent Cory Dykstra came up with a rather unique idea:

Give middle and high school students the opportunity to create the design.

"My wife is the middle school secretary in town and we got to talking about it one day and thought it would be a fun idea for the kids to get creative and see what they come up with," Dykstra said. "They've had the sheets for about a week or so and we've gotten about a half a dozen back. I think a lot of the teachers are pretty excited about it. I know all the principals thought it was a great idea. Hopefully we see some more results here."

The students were given a diagram of the water tower and very few limitations.

"They are only allowed to do up to three colors," said Sibley-Ocheyedan High School art teacher Shanise Brockshus. "The city will take care of getting it painted, so the kids just have to come up with the design."

The deadline for the designs is Dec. 31, which allows enough time to pick the best one and be ready to paint once the weather warms up.

"We are planning on picking a winner in the January or February time frame," Dykstra said. "The company that will be painting it will need the color scheme a month or month in a half in advance. Hopefully they can have one picked out by February and probably to the company that's going to paint it by late February or early March and we can get a good jump on it in the spring when the weather cooperates."

Originally, the design was going to be similar to the current water tower.

"We were at that point where the construction is finished and they have closed up shop for the winter and in the spring, they are going to come back and paint the tower so we can put it into the service," Sibley City Administrator Dan Janssen said. "We got to talking about what kind of design we are going to put on the tower. Our water guy came up with the idea of seeing if some kids could come up with an idea.

"Originally, we were planning on making it look like the other one, but we thought we'd give this a try since we got a couple months to decide with the winter here."

Right now, the tower is bare and colorless. But the process is in motion.

"I've talked with some of my high schoolers in regards to it," Brockshus said. "We haven't actually done any assignments with it. At this point in time, I'm going to do it as kind of a when they're done with their other stuff to kind of work with it."

One of her classes even suggested a group project.

"One of my high school classes, the junior and senior kids were like, 'We should come up with something really cool. Can we submit a design all together?'" Brockshus said. "I said I don't see why not. As far as I know, it's just a contest, there's not rewards or anything like that, just the prestige of having your design selected."

An interesting aspect to the tower is the fact it's circular, meaning all sides of the structure have to be considered.

"What I'll do with the students is we'll talk about the fact that you have to create a continuous design, one that can be viewed on all sides," Brockshus said. "So many times they think just the one side. But since it is in the round, that's one of the things we'll be working on for that."

Brockshus has brought up some suggestions for her classes to use.

"One of the scenarios we talked about you could do was tie it in with Grant Wood and do a Grant Wood-type landscape," she said. "Since it's in the round, you could have it like all the seasons. We also talked about that it has to be a simple design because you can't be too complicated when somebody else is painting it."

The total cost of the water tower, including the painting, was $978,900.

"We're replacing some underground storage," Janssen said. "Right now we have a 250,000 gallon raised tower on the north part of town. We have 250,000 gallons underground in a cement vault at our water plant. We were either going to have to start replacing all the circulation pumps in the underground or do something different. We decided to put a second tower up and replace the underground. This way we'll be able to keep the towers filled just by controlling the pressure in the lines."

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Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.