Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, June 10, 2002

HL to fix electronic sign, liquor store air conditioning

By Lynda Jensen

The ailing electronic sign on the east end of Howard Lake was one of several subjects addressed at the Howard Lake City Council meeting Tuesday.

The council decided to order fixing the sign by Good Neighbor Days weekend, but not before discussing the issue at length.

The sign has been stuck displaying the same messages since April.

It worked fine last year, but was abruptly disconnected when Highway 12 construction crews struck a cable to the sign that was not marked.

This spring, it was reconnected, only to be found with several problems, including a damaged controller and burned out lamps, said Public Access Coordinator Neil Sideen.

The sign has been struck by lightning, and damaged by vandals as well, Sideen said.

Some of the technical problems may be related to the sign sitting dormant over the winter, commented Mayor Gerry Smith.

To add insult to injury, a utility pole was erected in the way of the sign, council members noted. The pole obstructs the view of the sign all the way into town, commented Council Member Shelly Reddemann.

The sign is 10 years old and costs the city between $275 and $300 per month in electricity, because it uses incandescent bulbs, unlike newer signs which use LED displays, Sideen said.

The new Waverly electronic sign, which is made with LED technology, cost the City of Waverly $25 in electricity for the billing period of April 17 to May 20, Waverly City Clerk Debbie Ryks said.

The Howard Lake sign was originally erected in 1994, and cost $13,000 to buy and install, said City Clerk Gene Gilbert.

At the time, three entities contributed toward the sign's installation, including the Howard Lake Lions, which gave $6,000, the Howard Lake Legion for $6,000, and the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school district, which gave $3,000.

Since then, the city has paid monthly electrical bills to keep the sign going.

The financial impact of the sign was clearly felt by council members, however it was unwilling to pull the plug on the sign.

"We've got to fix what we've got," Council Member Tom Kutz said. "We need to get it up and running."

Smith agreed that shutting down the sign was not an option, he said.

Resident Pat Van Oss suggested pulling the plug and waiting to bank enough money for a new sign, pointing out the mounting costs.

"I don't usually agree with Pat," Reddemann said. "But it does seem like we're pouring water down an endless gopher hole," he said.

Very few places repair this kind of electronic sign, and obtaining more bids was unlikely, Sideen said.

In the end, it was decided to keep the sign working by ordering necessary repairs, although Sideen indicated that he hoped the Lions and other groups would contribute for lamp replacements.

Repairs include replacing the controller for $3,995, and $3,280 for re-lamping the sign, for a total of $7,370.

Sideen suggested the council consider making a long-range plan, including buying a new sign and possibly moving the existing one to the other side of town, using only one side of it.

Sideen plans to approach the Lions and other organizations for help in the repairs.

He gave two quotes on new signs ­ one was much like Waverly's sign, with three lines, except it included three different colors, for $41,770. The other quote was for $30,920 for a one-color, smaller sign. Both are LED display signs.

Corks are popping

The council ordered installation of an air conditioner at the municipal off sale by Diers Plumbing for $2,477, plus $400 for wiring.

The corks are already popping on wine bottles stored there because of the warmer weather, Smith noted.

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