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Volunteers paint mural on 14th Street West underpass in Huntington

May. 12, 2013 @ 11:14 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Most moms will tell you that the best Mother's Day gift is getting to spend time with their children.

A day before her oldest child, 34-year-old Jerry Basenback, had to drive back to New Jersey, Susan Shrader got to spend her special day working with her son painting and sprucing up the 14th Street West underpass Sunday afternoon.

A long-time quilter who lives just down the road from the underpass on James River Road, Shrader said when they saw folks were painting a quilt pattern on the underpass, they had to stop and help the 20 or so volunteers.

"He's getting ready to go back to New Jersey, so this is the best way to spend Mother's Day -- together," said Shrader, who also frequently walks nearby in Ritter Park. "... I love to quilt. I quilt all the time, but this is the first time I've ever painted a quilt pattern."

The project, which continues this week at the underpass, is the third underpass painted by volunteers under the guidance and design work by Huntington-based Bulldog Creative Services. Bulldog also did the redesign and painting of the 8th Street and 10th Street underpasses.

Because the mural painting will continue Monday and Tuesday, May 13-14, motorists are urged to use alternative routes while the work is being done.

Bulldog employee Christine Borders is overseeing the painting of the underpass, which pays homage to Duncan Box and Lumber and the J. Taylor Auto Museum, two mainstays of the Old Central City business district that lies just beyond the underpass. Bulldog simplified a design originally done by Myriah Dolen, a former Marshall University student.

Borders said the timing was wonderful as there are other revitalization projects ongoing in that neighborhood with new efforts being poured into Old Central City as well as the expansion of PATH (Paul Ambrose Trail for Health). Bridge and trailwork is now being done to link Ritter Park's multi-use trail, located just beyond the underpass, with Harveytown Park.

"Getting the people to help has never been a problem, and Old Central City Association had the money, and the timing is great because it will be right in time for their festival," Borders said.

The murals also will include signs pointing to key attractions in the area, such as Heritage Farm Museum and Village, the Museum of Radio and Technology and the Central City Farmer's Market.

Joanna Sexton, owner of Hattie and Nan's, an antique shop on 14th Street West and project manager for the Old Central City Association, told the Herald-Dispatch in a previous article that the project has taken about two years to come to fruition.

The Old Central City Association received federal Community Development Block Grant funds to pay for the murals as well as five new wayfinder signs that will be placed in the commercial district and near the 17th Street West exit of Interstate 64. The signs will match other way finder signs that have been placed in downtown Huntington and along main arteries into the downtown, Sexton said.

Joining such regular mural volunteers as Aaron Michael Fox, who has helped paint all three of the underpasses, was Kerry Dillard and about a dozen family and co-workers at Bloss & Dillard Insurance Managers.

Dillard, whose office has been located at 1925 Adams Ave. for the past 30 years, said they wanted to pitch in and help out the neighborhood and Bulldog.

"We just wanted to be a part of it," Dillard said, taking a break from painting a bright red background, where an antique car will be painted over top of it. "That's what we are here for. To me, Huntington is coming back, the downtown and all of Huntington. It really doesn't take much -- just a little bit of manhours."

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