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June 27, 1996

As Mayor Hollingsworth pointed out the other day, Oklahoma towns and cities already have plenty of problems to deal with because of unfunded state mandates and inadequate revenues. They don't need little unexpected emergencies as Stillwater is now experiencing.

Our friends over there in the Payne county capital began noticing an unpleasant taste in their drinking water this week after a mechanical failure occurred in their processing plant. The ozone disinfector, which I understand is used primarily to neutralize the flavor and aroma of their water, went totally kablooey and the expected result was something not too pleasant. Now patience is being asked of customers while a fix is awaited. A new part has to be manufactured, and it will be an estimated four weeks before the replacement arrives.

It's easy for us to sympathize with our neighbors over there. Folks hereabouts are used to the distinctive flavor which develops in our local system almost every summer. They say the lake bed out at Lake Perry "turns over" when the surface is heated by the sun's rays, and this has some disturbing effect on the algae. The net result is some rather smelly water spouting from home spigots. We have almost become accustomed to it by now. Wonder if we have an ozone disinfector?

Web worms are showing up now in pecan trees and other varieties around Perry and in the rural areas. They need to be stopped early or they will destroy many decorative and valuable specimens in this area. Your nurseryman can recommend a spray or other course of action. Best remedy I've heard is to cut out the infected branches and burn them. If the worms are not destroyed, they will move on to other areas.

Speaking of trees, motorists who travel along I-35 a few miles south of Perry have been noticing a foliage phenomenon of sorts lately. A few weeks ago locust trees lining the highways, mostly on the west side, turned from their normal dark green hue to a most unusual, but beautiful, golden color. They looked very much like rain trees, not common old locusts. Then the color began fading and now the leaves are all a brownish, dead color. Other trees in the vicinity appear to be unaffected.

Several opinions have been ventured as to the cause, with our current drought the most obvious possibility, though not all trees are going through the metamorphosis. The most logical explanation I've heard is that an aerial crop duster's spray drifted onto the tree limbs and transformed them. The hope is that only this year's foliage is suffering and the trees will branch out fully once again next spring.

Pump prices for gasoline in Perry service stations are on the decline this week, just before the Fourth of July holiday. Best I've seen is $1.09 per gallon for regular unleaded, down about a nickel. No telling where the trend will head next.

The other day a news report stated that a long-distance cable had been cut north of Guthrie, affecting service in several cities in this area. As usual, the story blamed a machine for the problem. But let's remember that the machine doesn't operate itself. Whatever cut the cable wasn't the machine's fault, any more than misspelled words in this column are the fault of my computer. I'm the perpetrator, not the machine. I operate the keyboard and control what goes into it. A machine operator, not the machine, is at fault when a cable is cut.