- Associated Press - Friday, June 30, 2017

BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. (AP) - Relatives of a former South Dakota mayor say they’re unhappy with the renovation of a water fountain that memorializes him.

The work at the Henry Hespe memorial fountain was revealed Monday at the Center of the Nation Visitor Center and Tri-State Museum in Belle Fourche, the Black Hills Pioneer (https://bit.ly/2sYFc1s ) reported.

The circular rock fountain was built in 1984 as a memorial for the former Belle Fourche mayor who served from 1974 to 1977. The renovation added a 5-foot-by-9-foot black cowboy hat centerpiece.

Officials at the center said the hat pays homage to the city’s Western roots, but Hespe’s son said his family, which donated the fountain several years ago, wasn’t consulted.

“The family is just disappointed because nobody contacted us about the changes,” Oz Hespe said. “We’re not pointing fingers or blaming anybody or anything like that - we want it to be solved peacefully and reasonably. We want good things for Belle Fourche because our family has been here all our lives and we want that to continue.”

Oz Hespe said the family has a meeting scheduled with the city to resolve the issue. The museum’s director, Kristi Thielen, declined comment, saying the situation is the city’s responsibility now.

Public Works Director Dirk Hoffman and Mayor Gloria Landphere also declined comment.

At the time of his death in 1977, Henry Hespe was in the middle of fighting a possible pollution threat to the city’s water supply as a result of the housing sprawl in the Spearfish area.

“He was committed to finding a workable answer to the problem of protecting the city’s water supply against possible contamination by people who do not believe they are a threat or simply do not care,” his obituary read. “The mayor was determined that the city would throw all of its resources into this battle.”


Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, https://www.bhpioneer.com

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