Lemon-lime tank to regain original color thanks to donations

According to city officials the lemon-lime green tank at the entrance to Lotito Park will soon be returned to its historic olive drab color thanks to donations. (Eric DiNovo/Bluefield Daily Telegraph)

BLUEFIELD — A lemon-lime green tank now greeting visitors to Bluefield’s Lolito Park is on the road toward getting its original and historically-accurate olive drab color restored.

Questions were raised May 21 when Bluefield Daily Telegraph photographer Eric DiNovo noticed that an M-41 Walker Bulldog tank parked near the entrance to Lolito Park had been painted a bright lemon-lime yellow. After the picture DiNovo shot was published, members of U.S.S. Yeager Chapter of Starfleet International, a science fiction club at Bluefield State, sent a letter to the Daily Telegraph describing how tank got its bright new color.

Jerry Conner, the club’s sponsor, said U.S.S. Yeager had been cleaning and painting the tank for about 20 years. Some paint was ordered from a local retailer, but paint that was delivered didn’t appear to be the right shade when the cans were opened.

“We took a sample of the color to a Bluefield merchant and purchased two gallons which was supposed to match our sample,” Conner said in the letter. “We were worried when we opened the containers and found something nowhere near our sample. ‘Surely it will dry the right color,’ we thought, and proceeded with the prep and painting. Imagine our chagrin when it dried, not green-brown olive, but instead, bright mustard yellow!”

City Manager Dane Rideout said later that the city obtained a copy of the paint’s receipt. On that receipt, the color was called “tank green.”

The Daily Telegraph’s story was circulated by the Associated Press, and Rideout said Wednesday that two companies had reached out to the city about donating the correct color of paint. One, Ron Plonkey with Creative Coatings in Warren, Michigan, read in the Washington Post about the tank’s new color scheme.

Another representative, Tad Wiesner with a company called Air Defense Segment, contacted the city along with Creative Coatings, he added.

“The companies reached out to me and they specialize in the historic restoration of things, and they are donating paint,” Rideout said. “They’ve done the research for the proper paint to use to bring (the tank) back to the original color.”

The companies’ recommendation is a polypropylene product that will bring the tank back to the original olive drab color that was used in its 1956 time frame, Rideout said.

Creative Coatings will be the company providing the paint, Rideout said. One of its distributors said it would help.

“They wanted to know a little bit about what it was painted so they could mix it properly so it would adhere,” Rideout said, adding the tank’s new paint “should last quite a few years.”

A date for repainting the tank had not been set as of Wednesday. Rideout was contacting Conner about having the science fiction club do the work when the paint becomes available.

Conner said Wednesday that the club was willing to repaint the tank. Whether the club continues to be the entity that routinely cares for it will be determined later when its member meet later.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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