By LeAnn R. Ralph
WHEELER — With the electricity off in the early-morning hours January 12 — and with outside air temperatures hovering around 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit or a little colder in some areas — several Wheeler residents were awakened by a loud crash.
“It was so loud, I thought the water tower was coming down,” said Marge Carter, wife of James Carter, village president.
The loud crash involving the water tower was a subject for discussion prior to the Wheeler Village Board’s January 13 meeting.
The Carters live right next to the water tower in Wheeler.
Although no one knew for sure what had happened, Jim Carter speculated that with the electricity off, water had drained out of the tower but had not been replaced, and because it was so cold outside, ice had formed on the interior of the water tower, and the ice had let go and fell to the bottom of the tower.
Both Jim and Marge said that the water tower makes quite a lot of noise in freezing weather.
“It sounds like a lake when the lake is freezing over,” Marge Carter said.
Robin Goodell, village clerk-treasurer, said that when the weather was warmer toward the coming weekend, Chris Goodell, water operator, along with someone to assist him, would take a closer look at the tower to see if there was any damage.
Wheeler Village Board members noted the electricity was off several hours early that morning, and it did not take long for the temperature to plunge inside their homes.
During the regular Wheeler Village Board meeting, Linda Crosby, village trustee, wondered why Wheeler does not have natural gas lines to provide “city gas” to village residents.
Crosby noted several people have asked her that question and have said they would like to have natural gas because the cost is cheaper than liquid propane.
Village President Carter said he has been asked that question several times as well.
The village has never been offered natural gas as an option, he said.
All of the furnace fittings in the village would have to be changed to accommodate natural gas, Carter said, adding that gas lines would also have to be dug in around the village.
“It would be a mess,” Crosby said. “We’d have to be torn up like we were when water and sewer was put in.”
Goodell said she would call around the next day to find out who to contact about natural gas.
“If we were going to consider this, we would need to have a town meeting,” Crosby said.
The natural gas company also would have to attend the meeting to explain what the process would involve, noted Marlene Larson, village trustee.