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Tank Leaves College Town in 'Staty' of Confusion

Friday, August 25, 2017

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The old college try wasn't quite enough for a crew of tank painters working on a Wichita, Kansas, water tower earlier this month.

Crews working on a rehab job on a water tower on the campus of Wichita State University were tasked with stenciling the logo and name of the school on the side of the tank. But on Thursday, Aug. 3, as painters reportedly worked into the evening to finish the lettering, something went awry. Or was it a rye?

Early the next morning, a supervisor made a big discovery: The tank now said “Wichita Staty Universite.”

The mistake was fixed quickly—reports say it was adjusted by 11:15 Friday morning—but not before it went viral, passed around the internet and social media via sites like SBNation, which predictably ridiculed the flub.

Big Job, Minor Mistake

The short-lived but widely shared mistake was a blip in a rehab job slated to take just over six months, having begun in February and predicted to be finished in September. Wichita Public Works officials did not immediately respond to a request for further details (Aug. 24), but City Council documents indicate that the rehab was part of a two-tank contract issued in June 2016 to American Suncraft, of Medway, Ohio.

According to a January 2017 council agenda, the water tower, located near 17th Street and N. Roosevelt street, is about 60 years old and required structural repairs in addition to blasting and recoating. The other tank on the contract, a few blocks east, was built about 50 years ago, and after blasting last fall, inspectors found considerable section loss and recommended that both towers undergo structural member replacement.

That change order brought the total contract for both tanks to just under $2.6 million, according to council documents.

Making it Pay

It was a brief embarrassment for the city and university, but at least one local nonprofit decided to use it to their advantage: Days after the mistake, the Wichita Eagle reported that a website was selling t-shirts and mugs with the “Wichita Staty Universite” logo on them, sending the proceeds to the Wichita Orpheum Theatre.


Tagged categories: potable water; Water Tanks

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