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Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, Published June 30 2009

Frowns abound over doomed smiley tower

HOPE, N.D. – While nostalgia buffs mourn – and even protest – the pending demolition of Grand Forks’ Smiley water tower, people here are about to get rid of their own Smiley, shedding nary a figurative tear.

Little Smiley, as some in Hope affectionately call it, will be taken down this fall.

Still in use today, it stands in the shadow of a new 100,000-gallon water tower that is under construction.

It’s part of a $625,000 project, including $25,000 for removal of Little Smiley, financed through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Grant, along with Bank of North Dakota and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loans, according to Marcia Mitzel, a member of Hope City Council.

“The City of Hope has completed some very big projects these past 10 years to keep the city a beautiful town and to entice people and businesses to come into town,” she said.

Other projects over the past few years include:

The city also has converted its local nine-hole golf course from sand greens to grass greens and refurbished the local swimming pool. A new Veterans Memorial Park includes flags and names of all the area veterans on marble slabs, along with a restored cannon.

The Hope School and American Legion baseball complex has new bleachers and concession stand. Organizers now are contemplating adding lights.

While many of the projects have used government funds, local residents also have contributed through property taxes and higher water and electrical rates.

“None of these things would be possible without community support. It takes not only the city residents, but the whole community,” Mitzel said.

When the water tower project first was announced, a handful of people discussed how it might be preserved as part of the town’s history. But that talk quickly faded away.

The city purchases its water from Dakota Rural Water Users.

Hope’s present water tower grew out of a water-sewer project that began in 1948. New wells and a pump house were built in 1958.

The water tower, originally silver and later blue, was repainted in 1972 and 1982. The current Smiley face was added in 1984, at a cost of $5, according to Mitzel.

The Grand Forks Herald and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.