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Iconic Okemah Water Towers May Have to Come Down

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The historic landmarks are easily visible along I-40, and after nearly 100 years, the towers have become difficult to maintain. The historic landmarks are easily visible along I-40, and after nearly 100 years, the towers have become difficult to maintain.
OKEMAH, Oklahoma -

An Oklahoma town that has become known for its water tower triplets may have to take its two oldest down.

The historic landmarks are easily visible along I-40, and after nearly 100 years, the towers have become difficult to maintain.

Okemah city leaders have been questioning the structural integrity of the towers for years now. The hope by many in the community is to of course have the towers restored, but Okemah's mayor says that may not be financially possible.

"My husband used to tell people that we live right under them, and I tried to explain, no, no," said longtime Okemah resident, Jerry Roberts.

For the last several decades, the water towers, one labeled hot, the other cold, have been what some would call national icons. Jerry Roberts and her family call them Okemah's treasures.

"I just hate to see them come down," said Roberts. "I think it would be sad, because they have been such a good landmark for many, many, many years, and a lot of people notice them."

"When people think about Okemah, that's one of the things they think about," said Okemah Mayor, Anthony Landers.

But age has taken its toll on the old landmarks. The "Hot" water tower hasn't been used in years, and the only tower of the two in service, built in the early 1900's was just drained Thursday afternoon.

"We've got some instability in some of the legs, and so, there's some issues there and it presents some dangers to our community," said Sanders.

"And was always afraid it was going to burst, and destroy these houses and stuff," said resident, Eric McDonald.

McDonald and his wife live directly under the towers, and say it's been a leaky problem for years.

"It looked like a fire hose spraying when it was leaking," said McDonald.

For the first time, the Okemah city council has agreed to search for bids to officially take them down.

"Whenever you put the safety of our citizens in harm's way, we've got to, you know, kind of take some drastic action we may not would normally take," said Landers.

Landers says the town simply can't just restore the towers for looks, but restoration is still not completely out the question.

"Just to have them repaired to be safe, and repainted," said Roberts. "But I know that would cost thousands of dollars."

The city has hired an engineering company to come inspect the towers Monday. From there, the Okemah city council will decide on what to do next during a special meeting.

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