The high school and adult students in Jason Buchheit's class installed a lighter-colored vinyl over the letters spelling out "Perryville welcomes you" on the stone and brick sign to improve visibility. The original design featured tone-on-tone brick with raised lettering. After the sign was installed, community members commented that the lettering could be difficult to read at certain times of the day.
"Sally Werner from PHEC contacted me and asked if we could make the letters lighter so they would stand out more from the brick background," Buchheit said. "At first we discussed removing and painting the letters, but Mike Warren of Main Street Signs took a look at it and told us that a vinyl overlay would be a good option."
Warren helped the students order the correct material then visited the Career Center to teach them how to properly apply it. Buchheit's class paid for the vinyl, which was offered at a discount by Main Street Signs.
"With wintry weather approaching, we needed to get this project done," Buchheit said. "The students used a wax and grease remover to prep the letters, which had to be completely dry and over 40 degrees for the vinyl adhesive to adhere properly."
Once the surface was prepared, the students worked in pairs to lay the adhesive-backed vinyl over each letter. A plastic scraper was used to remove air bubbles and smooth the vinyl. They carefully cut around each letter with a utility knife and then the protective sheet was removed, leaving the cream-colored vinyl exposed.
"This should last for a good number of years before it needs to replaced," Buchheit said.
Werner said that she and the PHEC Advisory Council are grateful to Buchheit's class for the donation of materials and labor.
"I really liked the brown lettering and thought it looked nice and rich, but I agree that it was difficult to see," Werner said. "When city officials asked if something could be done about the contrast, I contacted a few people for ideas.
"When I checked with Jason Buchheit and Mike Warren, they designed this solution for us. Mike was very generous in partnering with the career center to teach them the process, when it could have been a contract for his own business. We can't thank him enough.
"With the help of the city, the career center, and Main Street Signs, this is truly a community project."
Perryville Mayor Debbie Gahan said that several citizens had expressed to her their difficulty in seeing that portion of the sign.
"It's a beautiful sign and an impressive welcome to our community," Gahan said. "It is even more so now, thanks to the Career Center students.
"If you think something like changing the color of the words on a sign isn't noticed, I want to tell you that by Friday evening I'd already received two phone calls from people who wanted to tell me how nice is was to see the message that 'Perryville welcomes you,'" she said.
"Thank you to Mike Warren of Main Street Signs for teaching the students how to apply the vinyl," she said. "Thanks to the aldermen and the PHEC advisory board for realizing that, for the sign to be noticed, it needed this improvement. And thanks to Mr. Buchheit and his students for their efforts and their donation to improving our community's front doorstep."¬¬¬
Students who worked on the sign include Kurt Boyer, Jeremiah Browers, Don Coalson, James Giles, Cody Myers, Pillip Miranda, Kevin Smith, Dylan Vernon, Kyle Welch, Kaleb Wingerter, Kyle Allen, Dusty Cook, Joshua Douglas, Anthony Gresham, Rodger Grubbs, Valerie Hernandez, Tylor Kelley, Garrick Martin, Aaron McCarthy, Jacob Orman, Alex Plunkett, Michael Swisher, Wyatt Terbrak and Jake Thele.
Buchheit said he and his students were happy to help with the project.
"Contributing to the community that supports us so well is very important to all of us at Perryville Area Career and Technology Center," he said. "We're proud when our students can give back to the people who support us each day by helping with projects like building a portable grill for the DARE program or making improvements to PHEC's welcome sign."
Buchheit invites community groups to contact the career center whenever they have projects that students might be able to complete. Call Director Steve King at 573-547-7500, Dial 8+254 or email email@example.com.