It was time for a fresh coat of paint.
The California Park Department, with help from four Tipton Correctional Center (TCC) inmates and funding from the E.M. Burger Foundation, is painting the decorative heritage-style street lights around town. This is the first time the city will refurbish the lights since installation in 1992.
"This is the first time I've ever seen them painted," said Robert Pace, park supervisor. "I know individuals have painted them before, but this is the first time it's going to be an all-out effort to get them all painted at one time. ... As long as they've been up, a lot of them have never been painted."
Pace said the lighting project took precedence over tree-trimming because the city's Electric Department is busy.
"With the weather being nice, it's just the time to get it done," he said. Pace said he hopes to wrap the project up before bad weather sets in.
The lighting project isn't the first time TCC inmates helped out around California. Pace said inmates previously helped mulch trees for a church project.
He said the inmates receive $10 per day and meals in exchange for the help.
Funding for the project comes from the same organization that initially helped install some of the lights: the E.M. Burger Foundation.
Sara Rohrbach, budget director for the foundation, said the organization usually works with the city to fund local projects. The foundation will reimburse the city for work on the lights. Pace said the total project cost is unknown.
"We want California to be the best-looking community that it can be," she said. "... When (Mayor) Rich Green and I were in contact about some projects that the E.M. Burger Foundation might be able to help the city with, he gave me some choices and that is the one we chose to do."
Rohrbach said the foundation typically doesn't fund maintenance projects, but this was a special case.
"... (S)ince these were a little bit different ... and we were in on purchasing some of them, we thought it was a good fit to get them shined back up," she said.
California Progress Inc., originally installed the lights in 1992 as part of a beautification plan. According to a story in the April 29, 1992, edition of the Democrat, 105 lights were originally slated for installation "in an area from Highway 50 North to, and around, the Moniteau County Courthouse." Individuals, businesses and organizations -- such as the foundation -- purchased the lights for installation on their property.
The total number of lights installed is unavailable, but Pace said it is more than 105. On Monday, he said inmates and Park Department staff had painted more than half the lights.