Campus News

Fountains confirm spring arrival

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With Indiana weather as versatile as a teenage girl’s mood swings, Mishawaka citizens look forward to the calmer days of warm weather after a winter that quite overstayed its welcome. While some Americans turn to Punxsutawney Phil to determine the meteorological future, Bethel students look to the pond fountains. The Reflections Pond has been home to an Otterbine Aerator fountain for around 10 years, shortly after the dual ponds were created. In addition to adding to Bethel’s prestigious landscaping, the fountains also serve to keep the ponds healthy by aerating the water and preventing algae growth. When the cold comes, however, the two devices are taken in by grounds workers to hibernate with the Bethel wildlife. “Because they’re floating fountains and they have to be pulled to the edge and if we get too thick of ice, we can’t get the anchors out and stuff like that,” said Bethel Grounds Supervisor Rick Hall. “It’s hard on the fountains to be pulled through the ice.” But with Mishawaka known for its unpredictable weather, how can one gamble against Mother Nature? “We kinda rely on the long-range forecast, ten-day and twelve day forecast,” Hall said. “We’ll start seeing sub-freezing temperatures for very long, we’ll have to get 'em out.” Fortunately, grounds maintenance has a good track record, never once having the fountains stuck in layers of ice. “We’ve been pretty lucky,” he said. “We just kind of tie 'em in and get em in as early as possible so everybody can enjoy 'em before graduation, and then also leave 'em in as long as possible.” Still, the mechanisms face a few different potential damages. In addition to ice, rocks pose a large threat. It’s common for Bethel students to practice skipping them on the pond, but Hall knows the risk. One hit to the plastic nozzle can cause irreparable damage and “a well-placed rock” can mean paying $300-$400 for a new one. However, while Hall can’t protect the fountains from rogue skipping stones, his yearly battle with ice continues in a winning streak. “We’ve had some pretty cold events,” he said. “Really we’ve been pretty lucky.”
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