Okemah Landmarks Could Be in Jeopardy
OKEMAH, Oklahoma - Okemah, Oklahoma, is the birthplace of folk singer Woody Guthrie, but it's another couple of town icons that are causing a stir these days.
The town has become known for their water tower "triplets." The elder two towers are painted with "hot" and "cold." The largest and newest one is painted with "Home of Woody Guthrie."
Kay Watson has lived in Okemah all her life, and sees the water towers as old friends.
"I love these water towers," said Watson."They're so iconic."
But Watson and others are concerned about the future of Okemah's famous old landmarks. Just last week the city council discussed several options regarding the towers.
"The problem came up because of the age of the water towers and our water supply," said City Manager Jerry Turner. "We're just trying to plan for the future."
Okemah's city council heard from Utility Service Company about the current state of the towers and was presented with estimates to rehabilitate them or remove them completely. The latter option is one that Watson considers a worst-case scenario.
"In a perfect world, I'd like to see 'em be restored." Watson said. "I just want 'em to stay."
Watson, who is on the newly formed STOWT, or "Save the Okemah Water Towers" committee, said the towers have become synonymous with the town, and that thousands of people who flock the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival every July associate the town with the familiar landmarks.
"They've come to know and love and expect to see these water towers," said Watson. "It would just be I think, detrimental."
Buddy Bond has lived just a few yards from the old towers for thirty-plus years. Bond's met hundreds of folks over the years from all over who stop and take pictures from his front yard. He thinks the neighborhood would be sort of empty without them.
"I think I'd rather see 'em stay," said Bond. "Right in my front yard."