It’s a !@#**& job but someone has to do it

Posted on Tuesday 6 January 2009

One of the key things I have learned from observing the Spur sidewalk project is that grant money isn’t free and it doesn’t necessarily make things better. And, furthermore, the process of the project rarely makes sense. This was affirmed in my mind on Friday morning. Backing into the “news cave”, I noticed Harry Bob Martin, president of Dickens County Historical Commission, the organization which owns the Palace Theater in downtown Spur and next door to The Texas Spur office. He was painting some form of liquid on the building’s bricks.

Martin and his group have worked methodically and diligently to continue restoration efforts on the town’s old movie theater. Last year they received a grant from the Texas Historical Commission to replace damaged bricks on the building which was done last fall. THC is a governmental entity, so they apparently like doing things the hard way. They weren’t happy with the color of the mortar used on the project.

“Too white”, they told Martin. To which he replied, “That’s what the architect ordered.”

I guess it didn’t matter what the architect ordered, who incidentally got $7,000 of the $10,000 in grant funds allotted for the project. THC told Martin it didn’t look old like the rest of the mortar and should be stained.

“With what?” he asked. “Cow manure,” they answered. THC went on to tell Martin, “Some engineers at A&M (as in Texas A&M) came up with the cow manure solution.”

And, I must say, that is a completely appropriate conclusion coming out of Texas A&M.

Martin wasn’t entirely sure it would work but told THC that he could understand the engineers’ reasoning since he is an A&M grad also. Nevertheless he told me Friday he was only going to smear a small area on the lower part of the building to make sure the manure would indeed do the trick of making the mortar appear aged.

“It’s really kind of a !@#**& job, Cindi,” Martin told me. To which I replied, “Yeah, but somebody’s got to do it.”

On Monday I ran into Martin again in the post office where I asked him how his “crap” job was going. He said THC had talked to someone who had a better idea–coffee. He was headed to the grocery store to purchase instant coffee to apply using a paint sprayer. All in all a much better idea, I agreed. It must have been a UT or Texas Tech grad who came up with that one.

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