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Tower aimed at tourism
Orland officials celebrated the dream of lighting Orland's historic water tower Tuesday evening, sending out a kind of lighted welcome sign to travelers.
They gathered with well-wishers in "Welcome to Orland Centennial Park" off Eighth Street to watch the landmark light up at dusk.
The goal is to lure motorists off Interstate 5 and Highway 32 and into town as tourist season arrives.
It also is to advertise Orland's existence to those unaware there is a community here, officials said.
Economic Development Commissioner Gary Campbell spearheaded the effort and got his colleagues to recommend it to the City Council.
This led to council approval of $2,000 to install timed flood lamps on the 126-foot tower just a few weeks ago.
To commemorate it, Campbell organized Tuesday's event complete with vintage fire trucks, half of the Orland High School marching band and even a visitor or two from out of town.
Band Director Andrew Hancock led the students in such classics as "Sweet Caroline" in preparation for the upcoming Lamb Derby and Glenn County Fair Parades.
Local historian Gene Russell also was on hand to give background on the tower that turns 100 years old in June.
He said preparations for it began in the fall of 1910 when the Orland Promotion Club decided the city needed such water storage.
The club and other entities petitioned the town council to put the matter to a vote as the city needed water bonds to build it, Russell said. They also asked for a $25,000 bond to build a sewer system.
In February 2011, City Council members approved an election for May in which 128 citizens voted, he said.
Of those, 126 ballots were counted and both the water and sewer bonds were approved with 123 votes in favor and three against on each item, Russell said.
The tower holds 80,000 gallons of water and remains in use today, he said.
It is typical of such towers built in the early 20th Century and was considered very up to date in its day, Russell said, having been constructed by a well-known company of the time.
"This is a historic monument," Campbell said. "It has been giving Orland citizens life for a century."
And now the lights will focus on Orland's bright history and future, he added.
Economic Development Commissioner Helen Duree said lighting the tower would "get the word out we're here," and it is just one of many projects the EDC is working on to improve Orland.
Lighting the city's arch on Old Highway 99, lighting up downtown Orland shops and cleaning the city up are all projects the commission is promoting with cooperation from organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, where Duree serves as president.
"It is great to be a part of history," Orland resident Lisa Tietz said. "We did the (city's) centennial a couple of years ago, and now 100 years for the tower. It's exciting."
Russell added the tower was built during Orland's "boom" times when it was quite prosperous.
Lori Mead came from Chico to see the ceremony.
"It is neat to see them rejuvenate the town," Mead said. "They are taking something they already own and throwing lights on it. Lighting the tower is one way to say don't forget us."
The ceremony is a piece of local Americana, she added, which she found interesting since she is a teacher.
Mead also said Orland is a nice place to visit restaurants and shops without driving that far.
Those are the words Orland businesses and the EDC want to hear.
Contact Rick Longley at 934-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.