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Veterans Memorial repairs approved

The state Capitol Building Commission gave the go-ahead Wednesday for a $1.6 million restoration of the West Virginia Veterans Memorial.

Commission members also approved plans to put a new roofing material on the flat portion of the state Capitol's roof.

The Veterans Memorial -- designed by sculptor Joe Mullins and completed in 1999 at a cost of $4 million -- has fallen into disrepair. Upgrades include a new lighting system, water drains, handrails and paving stones.

The memorial is engraved with the names of more than 10,000 West Virginians killed in combat.

"I think it's appropriate that on the week of Veterans Day, we're talking about the Veterans Memorial," said Steve Canterbury, a commission member and Supreme Court administrator. "I'm very impressed with all the detail work."

Morgantown-based Mills Group recently completed an architectural and engineering review of the Veterans Memorial -- located on the state Capitol campus near Greenbrier Street. 

The firm's owner, Michael Mills, told commission members that the upgrades would improve the memorial's aesthetics and fix safety hazards. Mills said his firm talked with Mullins, the memorial's designer, amid the review.

"It's a sprucing up or restoration of a 20-year-old structure on the Capitol grounds," Mills said.

Mills said the memorial's reflecting pools will be lighted after the restoration.

"The water is supposed to be lit," Mills said. "It's just never really worked. That will come back into play."

The Veterans Memorial has been damaged over the years. People have stolen brass screws, and maintenance workers have scraped the side of the memorial with weed trimmers, Mills said.

The state Purchasing Division plans to solicit bids for the Veterans Memorial repair work early next year. The state hasn't set a timeline for starting and completing the project. Money from the Capitol Improvement Fund will pay for the restoration.

Also Wednesday, commission members reviewed plans to put a new rubber-membrane roof atop the state Capitol building. The cost of the project won't be known until contractors submit bids, state officials said.

ZMM Architects & Engineers, a Charleston firm, is designing the replacement roof.

The roofing project will include new outdoor walkways and steps that connect the Capitol's East Wing and West wings, which house legislators' offices, to the central building. State lawmakers and lobbyists frequently use the walkways as a shortcut to the House and Senate chambers.

ZMM architects said the new roof would be sturdier and capable of handling more foot traffic.

The state plans to use money from bonds and the Capitol Improvement Fund to pay for the roof.

In other business Wednesday, Canterbury said cleaning crews are damaging some marble walls and floors inside the Capitol. He said marble floors should not be waxed; Instead, they should be buffed with a special machine.

Workers also are apparently using abrasive cleaning products that scratch the marble walls, he said. Reach Eric Eyre at ericeyre@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.


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