Tag Archives: Hampshire

Hampshire hydrant art suggests more than just municipal upright water pipes

Woe to the lowly fire hydrant, mostly ignored or regarded as invoking a parking restriction. Unless it’s your house that’s on fire, and then its magnificence is evident.

You can adopt a dog. You can adopt a baby. Heck, you can even adopt a new lifestyle. But did you know you can adopt a fire hydrant?

Well, in Hampshire, Ill., you can.

Along with the responsibility to maintain the area around the hydrant and clear it of snow in the wintertime, the hydrant supporter earns the right to paint his or her hydrant, says Mike Reid, village trustee.

Modeling a program on Geneva’s Art On Fire program, Reid plans to get traction for hydrant adoption by hosting a contest next year and offering prizes to hydrant artists. “You can paint it any way you want to as long as you get the artwork approved, maintain the design for at least a year and avoid anything obscene,” Reid told me. Oh, and this is a painting project, not a sculptural one; artists cannot affix anything in any way, shape or form to their hydrants. Rust-preventative paint is required (i.e., Rust-oleum).

Talented artists in this little village already have taken to the streets. Here’s my art review of their work:

Kathi Drive

Kathi Drive

It’s not a passel of artists without a Photorealist in the bunch (an art style where the illusion of reality is created through paint). What’s a fire hydrant if not good ‘ol true red? Note the attention to detail: the artist on Kathi Drive left the chain in its natural rust color. Not sure what alien transmissions that little mesh hat is designed to ward off.

White Oak Realist hydrant

White Oak Street

Not to be outdone, this White Oak Street artist choose a more traditional Realism approach. If Rust-oleum doesn’t list this shade as Fire Engine Red, I don’t know what is. Careful inspection of this photo reveals even bits of grass around this hydrant are red.

White Oak Street

White Oak Street

A little ways down White Oak Street, another artist went the route of Precisionism, an American movement whose focus was modern industry and urban landscapes. R2D2 fans, take note.

Centennial Drive

Centennial Drive

Animation art in the Pop Art movement clearly inspired this Centennial Drive artist. Here’s looking at you, Carl the Minion.

Warner Street

Warner Street

On Warner Street, the artists (self identified as Reid and his wife) adopted the Painterly style. Note how the dalmatian’s spots celebrate the use of paint through evident brushwork and texture.

I’m waiting for some artist to employ Impressionism (think Monet and the art of light) or Abstract Expressionism (Jackson Pollack anyone?) in their design. Or even better? Let’s see some Dadaism (oh, don’t be absurd).

Want to adopt a hydrant in Hampshire? Lt. Jeanne Maki at the Hampshire Fire Protection District to claim your hydrant and learn program details.

Other Minnesota Transplant musings about Hampshire:

Public policy brilliance? Maybe. Honorable? I’m not so sure

The Hampshire Village Board has deftly created a way to have residents believing their water and sewer bills are going down instead of up.

It’s a move worthy of the man who wants to be the next Republican presidential nominee, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty campaigned on a no-new-taxes platform and has used his veto pen liberally to enforce his pledge; meanwhile, local taxes, fees, surcharges and other methods of taxing are occurring, but he won’t have to take the blame for any of it.

In Hampshire, the board agreed earlier this month to raise water rates 14% and sewer rates 16%. At the same time, the board approved outsourcing the billing so that utility bills will be sent to residents every other month instead of quarterly.

Brilliant, I say!

Last quarter, I was charged $169 for water, sewer and trash. Under the new rates, that same useage would cost me $186 a quarter. But, under the new bill timing, my bill will be only $124 for two months.

For the uninformed who don’t attend village board meetings and don’t read the newspaper, it will look like their bills have dropped. They’ll probably pat themselves on the back for using less water. They’re probably not keeping track of the last bill they got, so when they get another one a month sooner, they won’t even realize it.

To be clear, I’m quite happy to pay for water. Thank God for clean water. I’m thrilled to pay for sewer, which allows me to easily flush away some of the ickiest things in life. And I am over-the-moon grateful for the garbage man, who tidily takes care of the rotting carcases and leftover detritus of my life.

And I can even understand rate increases in a growing community that has probably had to expand facilities to accommodate so much new home construction (not necessarily in the past year, but certainly in the recent years before that).

But to raise rates while changing the billing — that seems like subterfuge to me. Brilliant politics, maybe, but not entirely authentic.

Proud past … promising future

The Village of Hampshire has a slogan, as all good villages ought to have nowadays. It’s one that apparently satisfies the “old” residents and the “new” residents: “Proud past … promising future.”

Hampshire is a sleepy little burg, a bedroom community if I ever saw one, a former farm town and nice place to raise children.

It is not a bustling metropolis, a retail mecca, a crime-ridden ghetto or a center for cultural enlightenment.

There is one grocery. The butcher shop inside is beyond compare. But it closes at 5 p.m. on weekends, and if you need eggs for breakfast, you’ll have to stop at the gas station if you want to restock before 8 a.m.

The biggest retail store is Ace Hardware, where you can get everything from a nail to a gift for Mom.

The new parts of the village have well-manicured sidewalks. The old parts of the village have mature trees.

I can run around the entire perimeter of the village in less than an hour. Even at my slow pace.

There are two parks. Both have baseball fields, one has a soccer field.

The streets are well patrolled by the local cops, and I do not hesitate to go outside after dark.

When I first moved here, I found it impossibly small. But now, I’ve come to appreciate Hampshire’s smallness. So I guess it does have a promising future. At least for me.