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W.Va. Veterans Memorial lights unkept

Feb. 03, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

CHARLESTON -- The sculptor who designed the West Virginia Veterans Memorial more than two decades ago says he's disappointed the state has allowed the monument's lights to fall into disrepair.

P. Joseph Mullins says the lighting at the memorial at the state Capitol complex hasn't worked for months and he blames "structural problems" for the recent issues.

"There is no organization that has specific maintenance responsibilities for the memorial," he said. "This thing ought to be maintained if the parking garage goes to hell. ... I'm bothered as an artist. I'm bothered as a veteran. I'm bothered as a state citizen."

Construction of the $4 million memorial began in 1990 and was completed in 1999. It includes four limestone monoliths and the black granite facings engraved with the names of more than 10,000 West Virginia veterans killed in combat during the 20th Century.

Mullins, who served in the Army in the early 1960s, designed the memorial from the ground up, picking the stones for the walkways, and even made sure they matched the stones in the bottom of the memorial's reflecting pool. He also developed a lighting plan for the monument, meant to evoke an "eerie feeling" in nighttime visitors.

The state Department of Administration says they don't know when the lights went out, but were first alerted to the problem sometime last year. Officials are in the process of hiring a contractor to evaluate the lighting problem.

"The only thing they know is it is an electrical issue. It is more extensive than changing light bulbs or anything like that," said agency spokeswoman Diane Holley-Brown.

Sue Chapman, business manager for the Capitol Complex's Division of General ServicesGeneral Services division, said some of the lights on bollards surrounding the memorial were recently broken.

While workers could not fix them, they did replace the broken lights with look-alike caps "so it would give the appearance of symmetry and completeness for that entire area."

"Until we have options that we can actually implement, we want it to look as if it's completely functional," she said.

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