Council accepts $250K bid for water tower painting project

By Ryan Cornell

MOUNT JACKSON — Town Council has accepted the lower of two bids submitted for the maintenance and painting of its water tank overlooking Interstate 81.

The 500,000-gallon tank, towering 150 feet above the end of Dutch Lane, has displayed the same basket of red Gala apples since it was completed in 2002 to reflect the town’s heritage of apple growing and processing. In those 12 years, the interior of the tank as well as the paneled decals sporting the exterior design have gathered rust.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Town Council unanimously approved contracting with Utility Service Co., which bid $249,200 for the project. The only other bid, from Caldwell Tanks Inc., was for $396,900.

Town Manager Kevin Fauber said that the Caldwell Tanks Inc. bid might have been higher due to their difficulty of completing a project this year — they’re busy painting other water towers, he said — and their distance from Mount Jackson.

Caldwell Tanks Inc. is located in Louisville, Kentucky. Utility Service Co. is headquartered in Atlanta, and has representatives spread throughout the U.S., including Charlottesville.

Utility Service Co. is also the same firm that maintains the Peachoid in Gaffney, South Carolina, a peach-shaped water tank often mistaken for a baby’s buttocks. The orange-hued water tank recently achieved fame for its appearance in Netflix’s politico-drama, “House of Cards.”

According to Fauber, the town has already set aside a reserve fund “over the last couple budget cycles” of $247,500 in anticipation of the project.

He said the water tank will keep its design of the basket of apples. He said Town Engineer Terry Blankenship reviewed the bids, checked references and recommended the bid from Utility Service Co.

“They will be using the paint that was spec’d in the specifications, probably the best paint out there on the market for water towers,” Fauber said.

Addressing the importance of the town’s iconic landmark, Mayor Bucky Miller said he was glad to see the return of the tank’s current design.

“We chose that to be our beacon out to the world of how nice this town is, and I would just hate for that to fall to a blank slate,” he said.

At its meeting, council also:

  • Appointed Mark Bowyer to the Planning Commission to fill the unexpired term of Whitney Miller
  • Readopted the state law as set forth in Section 58.1 of the town code

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or