DAMASCUS, MD (WUSA9) - At Jimmy Cone’s soft serve ice cream shop in Damascus, you might say Georgia Institute of Technology is getting the cold shoulder.
"Wow,” said 1998 Damascus High School alumni Kyra Vocci. “That's not cool at all. I mean this is like small town, you know. We always thought in high school, why isn't the hornet up there (on the water tower) in the first place?”
They weren't the only ones.
As WUSA 9 first reported, Damascus high school parent Victor Furnell and math teacher Rob Hyman spent years trying to get the water company, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, to give permission to have their logo, the "Swarmin' Hornet" painted on side of the the water tower that overlooks the high school football field.
WSSC finally gave the green light in May.
Furnell and Hyman even raised $15,000 to pay the cost of adding the Hornet when WSSC crews were already up there repainting the water tower on Wednesday.
Then came the buzz kill. Georgia Tech, which has a very similar looking trademarked logo, sent the school a letter telling them: "use of the license for the trademark on the community water tower was not permitted."
But why not? Especially when the two sides came to an agreement just last year on a list of dozens of acceptable uses of the Hornet logo by the high school?
Georgia Tech said "water tower" was not included on that list. Damascus appealed. Georgia Tech said it would hear the appeal in August.
Weeks after those WSSC painters had wrapped up their work.
“After that WSSCs next scheduled painting of the tower is not for another 20-25 years,” Furnell said. “So if it doesn't happen now it's not gonna happen."
That didn't seem to phase Georgia Tech. In a letter to attorney’s representing Damascus High School, obtained by WUSA 9, the university responded to the communities pleas for an expedited decision.
"The legal issues surrounding this request…cannot be satisfactorily disposed of in the limited time frame of the current repainting" wrote Georgia Tech's Vice President Patrick McKenna.
McKenna wrote that Georgia Tech hopes “that expression of school and community pride can be demonstrated at this time in other ways that do not include the use of the licensed trademark."
"There's an agreement, there's common sense,” said Jim Creegan, who had eight children graduate from Damascus High School. “Let us put it up there."
Could WSSC ever get the painters back up there if Georgia Tech changes its mind down the road? Spokesman Chuck Brown says it’s a long shot.
“Georgia Tech's decision not to grant permission by tomorrow morning certainly complicates having the mascot painted on our water tower in the future,” Brown wrote in a statement.
“Never say never, but it would take more time and money to have to come back, mobilize a painting crew, install all the necessary rigging and safety equipment, apply the stencil and paint the Damascus Hornet on at a later date.”
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