Archive for Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Big Springs residents thrown off balance by plans to topple water tower; county calls halt to project

October 25, 2011


The owner of this water tower, which stands south of Highway 40 off of East 50 Road near Big Springs, is set to tear the structure down. Residents of the mobile home are concerned about the safety of the endeavor considering the tower's close proximity to the home. Douglas County officials have stopped work on the project until more detailed plans are submitted for the tower's demolition.

The owner of this water tower, which stands south of Highway 40 off of East 50 Road near Big Springs, is set to tear the structure down. Residents of the mobile home are concerned about the safety of the endeavor considering the tower's close proximity to the home. Douglas County officials have stopped work on the project until more detailed plans are submitted for the tower's demolition.

Jaylene Rosenberger already lives in the shadow of a big water tower near Big Springs in northwest Douglas County. She sure doesn’t want it any closer — like on top of her mobile home.

But Rosenberger and other neighbors are worried that an odd set of plans to tear down an abandoned water tower at East 50 Road and U.S. Highway 40 are bound to create big problems in Big Springs.

“I won’t be anywhere near it when he goes to tear this down,” said Rosenberger, who lives less than 100 feet away from the water tower that is about 120 feet tall. “It scares the (expletive) out of me.”

Shawnee County resident Shad Howbert recently bought the unused tower and the approximately 75-foot-by-75-foot lot it sits on from Douglas County Rural Water District No. 3 for $1, said Bruce Smith, manager of the water district. According to Smith and others, Howbert bought the 50,000-gallon water tank with the intention of selling its metal for salvage.

But Smith said the water district’s board did not inquire how Howbert planned to remove the tower. Residents near the tower, though, soon found out and became concerned. Darwin Heyd, who lives across the road from the tower, said he had heard Howbert planned to cut one of the four legs off the tower and use a cable and bulldozer to pull it over.

“Their plan sounded like a bunch of good-old boys decided to pull a water tower down with a pickup truck,” Heyd said.

Keith Dabney, director of Douglas County Zoning and Codes, confirmed that Howbert’s plan basically was to pull the tower over.

“That is his plan but we haven’t approved anything like that,” Dabney said. “We absolutely would have concerns about that.”

Dabney said his office placed a stop work order on the property after learning that Howbert planned to tear the tower down without a demolition permit. Dabney said that his office will need to receive proof that Howbert has at least $1 million in general liability insurance and that an engineer has reviewed his plans for dismantling the tower. Dabney also said that Howbert would need to provide more details about what he plans to do with the tower once it is torn down. Dabney said Howbert previously had said he planned to cut the tower up and take it to his Shawnee County home. Dabney said that likely would be in violation of Shawnee County zoning regulations.

Attempts to reach Howbert for comment were unsuccessful. But Howbert’s brother, Shane Howbert, called the Journal-World and said he was speaking on his brother’s behalf. Shane Howbert declined to say how the tower would be taken down.

“I’m not going to tell you,” Howbert said. “It is none of your damn business.”

Howbert, though, did say that all the project took was a “little common sense,” and that he was confident that the work could be done without harming the nearby mobile home.

“I haven’t ever dropped one (tower) before, but I’ve been cutting trees all my life, and it is the same principle,” Howbert said.

Howbert said he believes some neighbors in the area are just trying to cause problems for his brother. He said one neighbor in particular is upset to see the water tower torn down because it has the name Big Springs on it, which is one of the few formal references to the unincorporated town.

Some neighbors said they are upset with the board of Rural Water District No. 3 and how it decided to dispose of the tower. But Heyd said those concerns stem from the fact the board did not take formal bids to dispose of the property. Smith, the water district’s manager, confirmed the board did not formally advertise the tower and land for sale. He said that at least one other individual had expressed an interest in the tower and the land, but the board chose to take an offer from Howbert at their October board meeting because the board wanted to get rid of the liability of owning the unused tower.

“I don’t care if they got $500 for it or $1 for it, as long as they auctioned it off to the highest bidder,” Heyd said. “If we’re just going to let people pull it down with a pickup truck, there would be lots of people bidding a dollar on it for the land.”

Rosenberger said she also is upset at how the board has handled the situation, but she said her concerns aren’t about the selling price of the tower.

“My concern is that it is going to land on my house,” Rosenberger said. “He plans on pulling it to the east, but if it comes down to the west or the southwest, it is going to crush my home.”


appleaday 6 years, 7 months ago

Q: What are the last words a redneck hears? A; "Hey -- watch this!"

trinity 6 years, 7 months ago

And right before that-"here hold my beer".

parrothead8 6 years, 7 months ago

Man, I would have definitely gone as high as $1.99.

dwd69 6 years, 7 months ago

After looking at the Shawnee County appraisers website I wonder how much of their property they would like to sell at $.50 an acre.

dwd69 6 years, 7 months ago

I found out the Howbert that bought this water tower also works for Shawnee County Rual Water District #8, that is part of the tri-district water plant. This looks like somthing that needs to be investigated by the Kansas Rual Water Board.

ljwhirled 6 years, 7 months ago

Better yet, lets put in 50 gal of gasoline on a hot day, then ignite it with a long piece of cannon fuze.

I bet I can climb down faster than the fuze burns.


Make that bid $4

RoeDapple 6 years, 7 months ago

On the next episode of "World's Dumbest Stunts" . . . .

kazer45 6 years, 7 months ago

paying 1$ for it was just to make it a legal transaction. The tower has been sitting there unused for years. what if it was structurally unsound and fell on the mobile home next week. I bet it would of been nice if he would of took it down then. Whats your idea of taking something that tall down. I know shad, he's not a stupid person nor is he a red neck. You attach two cables and two machines pulling in the same general direction away from the moble home, how is it going to fall on it. unless you live any where near this tower, you guys need to just stay out of it.

kazer45 6 years, 7 months ago caught me. Im just a big dumb redneck. The only way that tower is coming down any different is if a professional contractor comes in with a crane or something and chunks it down piece by piece. The only reason thats not happening is cause the water district probably want to spend the 25k it would of cost to have that done.

think_about_it 6 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Hooligan_016 6 years, 7 months ago

This. Is. GOLD.

Hands down, this is the "Story of the Year"

imastinker 6 years, 7 months ago

this sounds a lot like a zoning official looking to justify his existence!!

He even has problems with taking it to shawnee county and cutting it up there.

kujayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

Just roll the mobile homes out of the way, tear down the tower and then roll the mobile homes back into place. Simple

kazer45 6 years, 7 months ago

agreed...but im sure there would be something wrong with that too

irvan moore 6 years, 7 months ago

it just seems like the water district would have been required to advertise or put it up for bid

gphawk89 6 years, 7 months ago

The tower's 120 feet tall. The parcel of land is 75x75 feet. It's going to come down on someone else's property. Has he asked for permission from the landowner of the adjacent property?

MarcoPogo 6 years, 7 months ago

You heard the spokesman: "It's none of your damn business."

kazer45 6 years, 7 months ago

ya he has written persmission from the land owner, from which the lady with the moble home just leases

MarcoPogo 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm starting to wonder if there's a "Let's Make a Deal" angle to this and that the tower is either full of gold coins or baby goats...

trinity 6 years, 7 months ago

Fill it with CANDY and let people shoot at it 'til it busts open a'la a huge pinata. Fun for all!

Steve Miller 6 years, 7 months ago

You'd be money ahead if it hit the trailer.

classclown 6 years, 7 months ago

Maybe an Occupy Tower group can get together and climb up and camp on top of it.

JJ34 6 years, 7 months ago

well apparently they wont let me post the things Id like to say but the whole situation is way more complicated than most of you would think! The guy hasnt exactly been "truthful" about alot of things....

somebodynew 6 years, 7 months ago

JJ34 - I think most people are just making fun of the situation. I can tell just from what intormation is printed that this guy (and his brother) are not too forthcoming. In fact the entire situation should be looked at. How did this guy get to 'buy' this thing for $1 when it sounds like nobody knew it was for sale.

And the whole, 'I haven't ever brought one of these down, but I cut trees all my life' tells me the poster who repeated the joke about the last thing a red-neck hears may be pretty close to the truth.

Grump 6 years, 7 months ago

I agree it should be looked into. I have a hard time believing that one of the legitimate salvage companies would not have paid a lot more for it, and had insurance and the basic competency to bring it down safely.

kazer45 6 years, 7 months ago

what legitimate company is going to take that thing down just from the scrap metal...none... theres probably like 3-4k worth there. It would cost them more to take it down. this whole thing is gettting blown out of porportion. there is just one guy that has his panties in a bunch that is cuasing all this trouble. if it went out to bid and some other normal joe got it, how do you think he would take it down...not everybody has the equipment needed to take a tower like that down. The water district saves money this way and they are no longer reliable for it

irvan moore 6 years, 7 months ago

selling the tower is one thing, selling the land is another, pretty sure any of the adjacent property owners would have paid more if given the opportunity.

kazer45 6 years, 7 months ago

for a 75x75? that square sits on the property of only one person and i bet he will end up with after the tower is removed, why would shad want to keep a lil square in the middle of someone else property

pace 6 years, 7 months ago

I don't agree that is not a feasible plan. One can drop a tower. It is NOT like dropping a tree. He should invest in a good crane or at least a caterpillar 7 and good cables. He should have at least two anchored guide lines. He might kill someone. Demolition is better done with an experienced hand. I hate the dyi/make over shows that show demolition is like a drunk in a bar. Smart demolition is done with thought and is more like deconstruction. I would not tip it. I would drop, the body straight down on one side.

kazer45 6 years, 7 months ago

he's got a big dozer with a wench with plenty of good cable and a track excavator. and im sure he put more thought into then you ppl think. not just lets hook up and pull on it, that would be stupid

kazer45 6 years, 7 months ago

lol ya she went to school for it lol. (winch)

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