published Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Updated mascot back on water tank (with video)

  • photo
    Phillip Bade of Graphic Works removes a tarp Tuesday revealing the new Phillip D. Glass sign atop a storage tank at the Tennessee American Water Company. The Phillip D. Glass sign greets motorists coming into downtown Chattanooga from Riverfront Parkway, and the sign has interchangeable hats and shirts that are used for different seasons, occasions, and agencies.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

  • Water company unveils new Phillip D. Glass on Amnicola Highway
    Tennessee American Water unveiled a new look for mascot Phillip D. Glass on Tuesday. The iconic employee, who greets drivers along Amnicola Highway, was taken down while routine maintenance was performed on the tank in June.

Phillip D. Glass looks good for a man who in June was carted away in pieces.

On Tuesday, he found his way back to his perch, and the poly-aluminum mascot for Tennessee American Water looks better than ever.

On June 14, Glass waved good morning to Amnicola Highway motorists for the last time before coming down off of his water tank for a long stint in rehab.

His life on the road had left him looking a bit weathered.

On Tuesday, officials unveiled the new, sexier face of the local water company, leaving the old '70s look behind.

"We wanted to update him," said spokesman Vince Butler. "It's an icon people associate with the company."

The new Glass is a man who could fix a faucet or swing a five-iron without going home to change. He's a hometown guy who supports the local football team and is also sensitive to the issue of breast cancer.

Glass appears to have been working out while he was away. He's noticeably lighter around the midsection and his shoulders are broader. Glass is also more comfortable in his own skin. Instead of an ill-fitting button-down work shirt, he's sporting a fitted polo shirt.

Part of tank revamp

In reality, Glass had to come down because officials needed to refurbish the water tank on which he sat, at a cost of more than $1 million. The 1.8-million-gallon tank, which holds fresh drinking water at the ready for the downtown area, was getting old.

Each of the company's 28 tanks must be cleaned and refinished every 20 to 25 years, and the company has been renovating them at a rate of about one per year.

Tennessee American Water has justified recent rate increases, in part, because of the need to replace its aging infrastructure in Chattanooga. On Monday, the water company and city and business groups reached an agreement to allow the utility to boost water rates by 12 percent in November, pending approval of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority.

Deron Allen, president of the company, has said the rate increase is only half of what the company requested, but the extra $5.2 million will help the company pay for $27 million in pipe, valve, tank and treatment upgrades planned in the next 18 months.

The company will have spent about $25 million on capital investments in the three-and-a-half-year period since the last rate hike, which was the largest in history, Butler said.

Changing looks

To add a bit of pizzazz to its utilitarian image, Tennessee American plans to give Glass different props throughout the year.

For instance, while Glass currently supports the Chattanooga Mocs football team by holding the team's football helmet in his hand, officials can outfit him with a hard hat, a United Way T-shirt as the giving season approaches, or stick a pink breast cancer ribbon on his shirt.

Bill Reason of Graphic Works, who created the new Glass, said Phillip will be ready for the holidays, too.

Workers already have made him a Santa hat.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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