Holiday lights decorate unfinished courthouse

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Construction superintendent Gene Schreckengost depends on drawings, even when it comes to putting up Christmas lights.

Schreckengost drew up plans for where to string the lights on the unfinished federal courthouse in Cape Girardeau and then turned the task over to two members of his construction crew.

The result is 400 feet of sparkling Christmas lights, featuring lighted snowflakes and candy canes, strung atop steel beams on two sides of the building frame at the corner of Independence and Frederick streets 28 feet above the ground.

Three Christmas-tree-styled frames outlined in lights stand atop the beams at the northwest corner of the building.

The lights -- about 5,000 in all -- went up Thursday. "It turned out pretty nice," said Schreckengost, who works for Denver-based PCL Construction Services. He bought the Christmas tree lights.

Jamey Hall of Cape Girardeau, assistant superintendent on the construction project, and worker Clay Potthoff of Minneapolis strung the lights.

Hall said getting the two strands of lights out of the box and unwinding the strands took some time. Some of the lights didn't work at first, he said. The problem was traced to a bad bulb, which the construction workers replaced.

Schreckengost said the contractor wanted to bring a little Christmas spirit to the $50 million project, particularly since some of the construction workers are from out of town.

"We wanted a festive atmosphere for the guys," said Schreckengost who is from Seattle.

He said it's also a way to reach out to the community.

335-6611, extension 123

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