Ignite Academy students repair broken historical marker

Feb. 18—Blake Vickers

While it is not known how the historical marker outside of Mt. Zion Christian Church fell, thanks to the hard work of a welding student at Ignite Academy North, the marker has been repaired.

"I had a phone call at the Battle of Richmond Visitors Center that the historical marker outside the church was broken," Battle of Richmond Visitors Center Curator Phillip Seyfrit said of learning of the historical marker's damage. "In the meantime, the state had already picked it up. For some reason the sign broke, there is no evidence of vandalism or being hit by a vehicle. It just broke."

Seyfrit reached out to Welding Instructor Tim Pinson to see if the educator or any of his students at the Ignite Academy would be interested in helping fix the sign.

Pinson and Madison Central senior Hannah Moore agreed to work on restoring the marker.

Moore said repairing the sign was a challenge and that it was the biggest TIG welding project she's undertaken in a long time.

"It was interesting. We assumed and figured it was an aluminum sign from the get-go. It had a lot of magnesium or concrete pieces mixed into it. So it was a lot of — clean it, weld it, find a piece of concrete, clean it, and weld it again. I spent two straight weeks on it, all day, every day," Moore said.

The student noted the type of metal being worked on plays a huge role in how that work actually plays out. She said she welded most of the inside of the sign, while Pinson finished the job.

Pinson said he has worked on historical marker signs before, and that the undertaking is as rare as it is challenging.

"It was fun watching Hannah get frustrated," Pinson said with a laugh. "I love getting to challenge her and this was definitely a challenge... That is a very difficult task. Aluminum is very finicky and that type of aluminum casting can be very difficult to weld."

According to the Kentucky Historical Society, more than 2,400 of these markers designate a piece of interesting or important history.

In the case of Mt. Zion Christian Church, the marker describes the role the place of worship played during the Battle of Richmond in Aug. of 1862. The structure served as a field hospital during the battle, and still has scars left from Confederate cannon fire. It ultimately served as a hospital for both Union and Confederate forces during the battle.

While it was a difficult undertaking, Moore said repairing the sign was fun and worthwhile. Some special visitors to the Ignite Academy solidified that feeling.

"It was really fun when we had fifth graders come in for tours. We got to look at them and say 'You know those signs you see on the side of the road? We're working on one of those — we're fixing it,'" she said.

Alongside fellow seniors and welding students Haley Fett and Ethan Bowling, Moore helped Seyfrit and Madison County Historical Society member Tom Black affix the newly repaired marker back in place outside of Mt. Zion Christian Church.

Seyfrit, Black, and the Madison County Historical Society were extremely thankful to Ignite North's welders for repairing the marker. Pinson said this type of community service is part of the mission statement of the academies.

"I know a lot of people are just now hearing and seeing of the technical school. We've been here since the late 60's. These programs just haven't been advertised the way they are now. But working with the community and helping the community, that is what this is all about," Pinson said.