Lead paint on VA tower tackled

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WALLA WALLA -- Although the federal stimulus package may seems distant and intangible at times, paying unseen billions to bankers in New York, a fading symbol of rural America is getting a federal face lift right here.

The water tower at the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center was built in the 1920s and still functions today, according to Craig Resich, project manager with head contractor, Boise-based Northwest Technologies.

"It is still working and they are using it," he said.

But, with a failing lead paint job, the tower needs resurfacing work to ensure its survival.

Responding to this need, the medical center secured federal stimulus money to hire Northwest Technologies and other local subcontractors.
Work will include "lead paint abatement and repainting of the steel tower," according to the project's page on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site.

Carpenters already have completed building a wooden frame around the tower, and workers continued putting up plastic sheets over the frame today.

The wrapping is scheduled to cover the entire structure by the end of the week. Once heated and "shrink-wrapped," it will serve to house the lead paint chips being removed from the surface of the tower, according to Reisch.

Workers will use media blasters shooting sand to remove the lead paint and subcontracted local painters will apply the new surface. The project will take around six weeks to complete.

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