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Officials approve repairs to state veterans memorial

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nearly 15 years after its completion, the West Virginia Veterans Memorial is finally on the way to reflecting its designer's original plans.

On Wednesday, the Capitol Building Commission, which oversees all changes to the state Capitol Complex's physical appearance, unanimously approved extensive repairs to the veterans memorial, which are expected to cost between $1.6 million and $1.8 million.

The project now will be sent to the state purchasing division, which will put the project out for bids.

The project will include repairs to damages the memorial has received since it opened in 1999. But the work also will, for the first time, introduce design elements sculptor Joe Mullins had originally intended for the memorial but were never fully implemented.

That includes motion sensor lights and recessed lights meant to light up the memorial's reflecting pool.

Mullins' original design called for a large beam of light to shoot up from the middle of the memorial after the sun went down.

When a visitor approached the sign, motion sensors would shut off that spotlight and turn on "wash lights" to light up the memorial's interior and the names engraved on its four large granite slabs.

That never worked, but engineers with the Morgantown engineering firm Mills Group LLC have prepared a construction plan for the monument that would put Mullins' designs into a reality.

"We've re-created that exact same sequence," engineer Michael Mills told commission members on Wednesday.

The plan also calls for LED lighting to be installed in the memorial's reflecting pool. Mullins' plan called for neon lights, but they were removed because of electrical issues.

The construction plan also calls for lighting grates inside the memorial to be replaced with new grates that prevent debris from collecting in the lights. The grates also would feature tamper-proof screws to keep people from stealing the covers.

The plan also includes repairs to the reflecting pool, repairs to broken and missing stones around the monument, replaced bronze accent pieces, new bollards for the outside of the memorial and, for the first time, a lighting fixture for the women's veterans statue.

Department of Administration architect Bob Krause said the current roof is 20 years old, and leaks have led to "significant damage" to the interior plaster ceilings, particularly in the House and Senate chambers.

Capitol Building Commission members approved a plan Wednesday to remove all the current roofing, going all the way down to the concrete underneath. Workers will then replace that with layers of insulation, a protective layer of rubber and finally a new roof.

The work plan also includes replacing the rooftop walkways that run between the main Capitol building and its east and west wings with an interlocking rubber flooring because the current walkways can move underneath pedestrians, causing problems for women wearing high heels.

It also calls for replacing the rooftop walkways' wooden stairs with something that better matches the Capitol's architecture.

At the end of Wednesday's meeting, commission member Steve Canterbury, administrator of the state Supreme Court, raised concerns about the upkeep of the Capitol's marble floors.

Canterbury says Capitol workers are waxing the floors, which is "suffocating" the porous stone. Eventually, he said, the wax will cause the marble to crumble.

He recommended the Department of Administration bring in crews to scrape the wax from the floors and properly buff the marble. Once that's done, he said, cleaning the floors would require only a mop and a gentle detergent.

"I mean, the ancient Greeks didn't have linoleum floor wax," Canterbury said after the meeting. "But they had very shiny floors."

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.harold@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.


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