by Logan Gruber
The city of St. Joseph will turn off the lights that light up the water tower for an entire night March 28 in response to a request to turn them off for one hour.
Earth Hour is a campaign to switch off the lights for one designated hour – from 8:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28, local time, at homes, businesses and government buildings. The campaign began in 2007 in Australia and is now in more than 162 countries.
At the city council meeting Monday night, council members voted on a request by Wayne Birkholz, St. Joseph, to turn out the lights for one hour.
Terry Thene, the public-works director, had previously discussed with the city’s administrator, Judy Weyrens, the possibility of having a staff person at the water tower for two hours to turn the lights on and off. Thene said the water-tower lights have to be turned off manually and can’t be controlled remotely.
It was brought up by the council that perhaps the public-works department could have a staff person turn off the lights during the day of March 28 and turn them back on in the morning of March 29, thus saving the cost of having someone come in for those two hours. Thene thought that was a reasonable solution.
Council member Bob Loso wondered whether other cities were participating in a similar way.
“This has been requested before…it’s a one-person movement,” Loso said.
After some discussion, the council voted 3-1 to approve the request to turn the lights on the water tower off, with Loso voting against. Mayor Rick Schultz was not in attendance, and council member Dale Wick served as acting mayor.
Last summer, painting and maintenance took place on the 500,000-gallon water tower.