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Slatington fireman gets facelift

One of Slatington’s most recognizable landmarks is getting a fresh look this summer.

Slatington native George Kern spent Tuesday morning putting a new coat of paint on the historic Fireman’s Drinking Fountain, located on Main Street.

The 12-foot-high statue, dedicated in 1909, depicts a volunteer fireman carrying a child on his left arm and holding a lantern in his right hand.

“We try to paint it every five or six years,” Kern said. “The sun beats down it and really fades it. The baby’s hair was actually gray before we started painting this week.”

Purchased from J.W. Fiske Iron Works, New York City, the statue cost $700 at the time and was designed to provide a drinking fountain for people and a drinking area for horses and dogs.

An electric bulb illuminates the firefighter’s lantern at all times. Kern said the bulb is meant to last 13 years.

The statue was also meant to symbolize volunteer service, something Kern hopes to see more of throughout the town for projects such as this one. He was helped Tuesday by Arabella Heintzelman, 15, and Abigail Rinker, 14.

“These ladies are doing a tremendous job helping out with the painting project, but we really do need more young people getting involved,” Kern said. “We have a lot of history here and a lot of historical pieces such as this statue that will need upkeep for years to come.”

The statue was refinished four years ago and Kern was at the forefront then as well.

“The base was blasted with dry ice and the statue was sanded with a power blaster,” Kern said. “There was a lot of rust on the bottom of it. We painted it then as well.”

It was damaged by an automobile in October 1979, but was restored and rededicated on July 19, 1980.

“People look for it and when it was down this last time for restoration, a lot of people asked what happened to it,” Kern said.

The painting project should last two or three days, he added.

“It’s great to see it with the fresh paint,” Kern said. “Weather does take its toll and when we have a harsh winter, like we did this past one, the salt really kicks up on there. He’ll be good to go for a while after this.”

Arabella Heintzelman, left, 15, and Abigail Rinker, 14, paint the Fireman's Drinking Fountain in Slatington on Tuesday morning. JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS