Chipley Water Tower Deemed for Demolition - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Chipley Water Tower Deemed for Demolition

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Chipley, Fla. -

It's with great finesse that Robert Sapp repairs his customer's glasses. Each day, you'll find Sapp doing similar work at his shop on the corner of U.S. 90 and SR 77.  

"As you come throw the red light, we're on the right hand side right across from the water tower," Sapp said.

The jeweler has used the water tower as guide for those who need directions; it has stood on that same street corner since the 1930s, but the news of its removal comes as a shock to Sapp, who's never known Chipley without it. "Yea, it's a landmark, it's for Chipley," and he's not alone.

"I've heard a lot of people talk about, well Chipley is such a small town, they only have two water towers and we're only going to have one." Gabriella Barnes said.

"Just when you see it, you know you're home. It is just part of the community." Joy Shipes said.

For about 80 years, the tower has withstood 56 watermelon festivals, various storms and years of weathering. But Thursday night, the Chipley City Council voted to bring down the water tower--declaring it under a state of emergency.

City Administrator Dan Miner says the structure has become a hazard and too expensive to repair. An expert told the council it would cost at least $175,000 to bring it up to code, an expense the council voted to defer. 

Estimates suggest the tower could be taken down in 1 to 2 days and would cost about $24,000.

This is bittersweet news for Sapp, a jeweler, father of 13 and lifetime resident of Chipley. "If it needs to come down I'm not against that, but it will be missed."

Although the city has the go-ahead to remove the water tower, at last check, the city administrator said he is looking at various sources of funding to save the tower.