Volunteer Repaints Port of Paducah Welcome Sign
By Ro Morse
PADUCAH, KY - Thousands of people visit Paducah's riverfront each week. The Port of Paducah, KY Welcome sign greets locals and visitors as they either float by on the Ohio River or drive/walk along the riverfront. Since the 2011 flood, it's been deteriorating with chipping, fading and peeling. Still, visitors want to have their photos made in front of it. Now it's getting all spruced up - by a volunteer.
City workers pressure washed it on Monday and Tuesday morning, Martin Walker volunteered to start repainting it. Paint was donated and scaffolding that muralists just finished using on the city side of the floodwall, was moved to the river side for this project. Walker, a local painter who has been painting on and off for 30 years, knew he could do it. With a level, carpentry pencil and a Sharpie, he began by outlining the ghosted block letters barely visible from previous signs. He knows if he does a good job, it will be good for his painting business, Executive Painting.
Walker said, "I'm enjoying doing this. It's a way for me to give back to this community. I used to work on the river and it's surprised me how many people ask questions about the river while I'm painting down here. I'd forgotten how many people come to this riverfront. It's a big draw for Paducah."
On Wednesday, a lady who was a passenger on the Queen of the Mississippi (docked at the riverfront), asked Walker to lend her his paint brush. She held it and posed, pretending to be painting the Welcome sign as her friend took her photo. Walker said, "It was fun."
Earlier in the year, the local artist who repainted the sign in previous years, was asked to do it again. She has been paid to do the job twice before but declined the job this year. When asked why, she said, "I want to paint something creative on that sign, not the same red, white and black block letters."
On the other hand, Walker paints trim, walls and cabinets. This IS considered creative in his line of work. Plus, it will be red, white and "blue" this time. . . truly "different strokes for different folks".