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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Ross Rambles - A shocking confession

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Once again, I feel the need to reveal my darkest nature, to expose the malignancies that encrust my loathsome being.

While others strive valiantly to exalt Cherokee to all who come within sight of our community, I secretly regard such efforts with disdain.

Yes, it is true - I am not in favor of putting the slogan "Your Place To Be" below the word "Cherokee" on two sides of the north water tower.

The slogan is not a bad one. It is almost as good as no slogan at all, but not quite. I understand that slogans have value in developing name recognition for products and services, but I never felt the need for a catchy phrase to accompany the name of the town where I live or, for that matter, the state where I live.

I have regarded the search for a new state motto every couple of decades with, at best, indifference. Some would argue that a state motto is necessary in order to have something to put on billboards at the borders. In that case, the motto should be - "Welcome to Iowa".

The phrase "Your Place To Be" doesn't mean much of anything and I suspect it would not even generate conscious thought by passing motorists, but it is commendable that some people want to appear more inviting than simply having the word "Cherokee" on the water tower.

They also want a bit more color than simply black on white. Mick Samsel presented artist conceptions to the Cherokee City Council with the slogan written in green and color highlights around the black letters of "Cherokee". There was also a small "Welcome to" in red above "Cherokee" but this was subsequently dropped from the proposal.

Please note that although Samsel is a sign painter, he will not be painting any part of the water tower and he did not charge anything for his concept art.

Over the course of several city council meetings, confusion developed as to the color specifications and as to the additional cost of the water tower art. The confusion continues to this day, the result of one of those occasional series of miscommunications that is amazing to watch slowly unfolding.

The decision to paint the water tower occurred five or six council meetings ago, along with the decision of the council to enter into a long-term water tower maintenance agreement with Utility Services Company, a Georgia based company that just happens to maintain water towers. The maintenance agreement includes the painting of the tower with a basic white paint and black lettering for "Cherokee" repeated three times, encircling the top of the tower so the town name can be seen from any angle.

This duplicates how the tower looks now except that the tower is currently a light blue. Any modification from black on white with just the repeated town name would cost extra.

Some people indicated to the council that the chamber of commerce might consider paying for at least some of the additional cost of added artwork. Some council members indicated that the artwork wouldn't be done unless an entity other than the city paid for at least all of it.

Mayor Dennis Henrich was delegated to find out how much extra the artwork would cost.

This is the point where expectations began to diverge. At that meeting, the council had approved white paint with black lettering for the basic project, making the decision at the urging of Utility Services so paint could be ordered.

Some assumed that this meant that any additional artwork would be done with black paint, reducing the project down to the addition of a slogan since you can't add color highlights to the black lettering of the town name with black paint. Others assumed that the artwork would appear in colors as presented by Samsel.

At a subsequent meeting, Henrich presented the figure of $6,500 for the slogan to be painted three times, once for each "Cherokee" and $5,500 to appear twice. His assumption was that it would be black.

Samsel and others continued to assume that the quoted price would be for color work and that not all of the quoted price would be additional cost.

Work has begun on the project this week but there is still disagreement about what colors were proposed and what the actual costs would be. At the council meeting on Tuesday, rather than giving clarifying answers about the proposed slogan addition, the company responded to a last-minute proposal to have much more extensive painting done, including a tree, a river and color blending from copper to black. The cost for this would be $20,000. There was a consensus that this proposal was not practical.

Samsel has talked directly to representatives of the company and is certain that there is color involved in the project for which the quotes of $6,500 and $5,500 were given. The $5,500 option is the only one still being considered.

That $5,500 may well include color, but Samsel's assumption and that of Joni DeVos, chamber director, that the price quote is higher than the actual added cost is a dubious assumption. Their reasoning is that the $5,500 includes both the repeated painting of the word "Cherokee" included in the maintenance agreement with the city plus the cost of the additional artwork.

This sounds like wishful thinking, rather convoluted wishful thinking. A Utility Services representative would understand that the actual cost of a project needs to be known. Why would someone give the city a meaningless number that is a combination of some unspecified portion of an already approved project plus an unspecified additional cost?

Samsel and DeVos appear to believe it is not too late to arrange added artwork. They couldn't get a quorum of chamber board members together this week because some of the board members are out of town but they hope to have a chamber meeting early next week.

If the artwork is actually approved, I will try having positive thoughts about Cherokee being my place to be.