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be quite a distance.
“We wound up deciding to bite the
bullet,” said Dennis. “We priced out what tubing and all of that would cost, and it wasn’t that bad. We told the Garden Club we think we know what we’re going to do to have it work, but we have no guarantees.”
First, they needed a timer so the pump would go off at set times and durations.
Dennis worked at Aqua Master in School Hill at the time, so he talked to the company, who in turn responded by donating a timer system. In addition, an anonymous person sympathetic to their cause donated the pump, and the Garden Club used donations collected from their spring plant sale and garden walks to buy the PCV piping. What’s more Lulloff Hardware gave them a generous discount on materials. They had heard customers comment on how beautiful the flowers are and were very supportive.
The city responded, too, by bringing in electricity.
But there were still problems to be solved.
First, they’d have to contain the pump and timer so that it could be removed as a unit in winter months to prevent it from freezing up.
This time HUI, where Jerry had worked in the past, came to the rescue. They made an aluminum enclosure for the pump and timer so that the city could mount the equipment on the side of the bridge.
Then, because the pump would have to kick in, shut off, and kick in again repetitively, it would have to be primed, ready for each time it was scheduled to go off. The two men solved that problem with a check valve so that not all of the water would run out.
“So there’s always water in the lines,” said Dennis. “When the timer says, all right, it’s time to kick in, the power turns on and...”
“All 10 planters water at one time,” said Jerry.
And to keep algae from clogging the system, they installed a screen, plus they draw water from the bottom of the river, not the top where the algae collects.
It seemed as if they had everything set, all the problems ironed out.
They knew they’d be able to pump the water to the planters on one side of the bridge, but would the water have enough pressure to reach the planters on the other side? Admittedly, it was a gamble.
Just before Memorial Day, the inserts filled with plants were scheduled to be dropped into the boxes to make it in time for the holiday celebration. The moment of truth had arrived.
The guys had assembled the unit in the back of Jerry’s house to make sure it would all fit first. Then, they took it apart and put it together down at the bridge.
Kathy had come along to observe.
The first problem was how to feed the line under the bridge to the other side. With a little help from some friends, they solved that detail. Then, they turned on the system.
Oh, they had water all right, but the flow wasn’t even. The flow of water from the pipes closest to the pump was too strong, whereas the water on the far side came out as a mere trickle.
Dennis asked his nephew for his suggestion, and he looked at the spigots for a while. A hole had been drilled in the center of each cap.
All at once, his nephew said, “What happens if we drilled a hole on an angle or up higher. Not in the center. We can turn that, and that creates a different flow and pressure force for each spigot.”
It was worth a try.
Jerry ran to Fleet Farm in Plymouth and then to Menards to get enough caps. Then, he brought them out to Dennis’ house so he could drill holes in them. The next night, they put the caps on the faucets and turned on the water.
And how did the guys feel as they watched the water flow evenly as they had hoped for during the two years of planning?
“Well, my chest came out a little bit,” said Jerry. “It was a gamble all the way.”
“It was fun,” said Dennis. “An accomplishment.”
These days if people happen to walk past the planters during watering times—6 a. m., noon, and 6 p. m.—chances are they will not even notice what’s happening, unless they spot the overflow, the drips that wet the pavement beneath, then run off into the river, constantly recirculating the water.
The city is happy because the system uses such a small amount of electricity that it would actually cost more to send out someone to take a reading than it does to run the equipment.
Visitors are also impressed. The people at Lulloffs still hear comments from people about how beautiful the flowers are.
Residents of the community are proud of their city, too. And the Garden Club?
Well, although the members may not quite understand why the system works the way it does, they really don’t care. As long as the plants are being watered. That’s all that matters to them.
So last year, the flowers bloomed from May throughout the summer months on into the fall. In fact, they continued to thrive until the first frost at the end of October.
And for Jerry Henschel and Dennis Brost, who took the gamble and won, seeing that happen makes them feel pretty darn good.