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How about making water tower a tub of Armour Star Lard?
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Very few cities, if any, have a presence in retail stores to the degree Manteca enjoys.

Virtually any market that carries Armour Star Lard prints “Manteca” on the flip side.

Credit it to bilingual packaging. Manteca means “lard” in Spanish.

With that in mind, why not try to sell Armour Star the signage rights to the municipal water tower on Wetmore Street?

It could provide a solution to the dilemma posed by those who want the 50-year-old water tower to become an icon to market Manteca. The city could possibly get Armour Star to foot the $125,000 to $150,000 to rehab and paint the existing water tower as a big tub of lard with “Manteca” on one side and “lard” on the other just as the company’s containers have to save it as a “historical landmark”.

That certainly would attract attention and create an icon.

Sure a giant tub of lard would look abrupt on the skyline but no more than a giant pumpkin.

In all seriousness, the water tower and the proposed cell tower have all the makings of becoming a defining moment for Manteca.

There has been much hullabaloo stirred up over saving and painting the water tower that can no longer hold 300,000 gallons of water due to earthquake safety issues. Then there is nearby proposed oil-derrick cell tower complete with a 20-foot flag pole on top.

No matter where you stand, you have to laud City Manager Karen McLaughlin and the municipal staff for having the initiative to revisit the issue.

A decision made several years ago determined the water tower had to go to accommodate corporation yard expansion and that it was too expensive to replace with the new million gallon tanks that have become sort of a Manteca standard.

Now that those plans have changed somewhat the water tower is no longer in the way per se. And a second look may mean water well near downtown or replacing the water tower with something less than the million gallon ones you see on West Yosemite Avenue or Lathrop Road may be appropriate. Such a move would enhance water pressure in the downtown area and effectively support increasing density that could occur as Manteca grows toward the 150,000 population mark.

The Manteca City Council will revisit the issue with up-to-date staff assessments. This was unlikely in the past when any change in the city’s previously adopted course was pondered brought an automatic call for a consultant. What needs to be made are some common sense decisions about downtown water needs, city communication needs, aesthetics, and the wise expenditure of public money.

The solution that may address the most needs, provide revenue for the city at $2,000 a month with an annual 3 percent escalation from Metro PCS for the next 25 years, and provide the most pleasing aesthetics and accommodate pumpkin boosters is obvious.

It would entail replacing the water tower with a safer version that would boost downtown pressure, put communication antennas back on it, and have Metro PCS put in a shorter monopole that could be used as a huge flag pole if that’s what is desired. The communication antennas need to be at a higher level than a cell tower.

Then if there is a community group that wants to have the water tower look like a giant pumpkin, they can raise the extra funds to do that.

Since the city has a contract with Metro PCS the monopole could go forward. Any replacement water tower is at least several years if not longer away. That would give pumpkin boosters time to raise the additional funds which would be significantly less than the $100,000 estimate to remove the lead paint on the current tower and to repaint it as a pumpkin. And since the tower would be designed with a “pumpkin tank” the cost would be lower as it could be painted before it’s put in place. That could whittle down what the pumpkin boosters’ need to $10,000 or less.

The city’s higher $150,000 price tag to paint the existing water tower as a pumpkin includes structural repairs that would have to be made even if water is never put in the tank again. Those repairs are a fraction of what it would take to make the tower earthquake safe to support 300,000 gallons of water.

And if that doesn’t fly, maybe Armour Star would be willing to send $2,000 a month Manteca’s way to secure attention grabbing advertising.

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.