Defective commemorative tiles at Lenoir Veterans Memorial to be replaced

Dec. 22, 2013 @ 08:03 AM

It may be true, as Douglas MacArthur said, that old soldiers never die, they just fade away.

But the engraved tiles at the Lenoir Veterans Memorial were not supposed to fade.

The nearly 1,000 tile pavers, purchased and installed in honor of veterans and their families, each show a veteran’s name, the insignia of the branch of the military that the veteran served in, the years served, and conflict in which the veteran fought.

The first tiles were placed in May 2010, when the memorial was revamped with the addition of the black granite marker containing the eternal flame, and two batches of new tiles are ordered each year, installed on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Last spring, city officials and families of veterans began noticing some of the pavers’ paint wearing off, and after an abnormally rainy summer now about 350 tiles need to be replaced, said Kaye Reynolds, communications and resource director for the city.

The pavers cost $125, purchased from Bricks ‘R Us, an engraved-brick and -stone manufacturer in Miami that laser-etched the names and insignias into the tiles, and painted the etches with epoxy-based paint.

One of the batches was defective, leading to that set of tiles fading, Reynolds said.

“It was just one particular batch on their end -- maybe a change in the epoxy they were using,” she said. “For some reason, this particular batch did not seem to adhere the way they normally would.”

The tiles have a lifetime guarantee, Reynolds said, and the city had to document the tiles affected, photographing each one, and have an engineer inspect the memorial and verify what the regular maintenance had been to ensure that the city had not caused the fading.

Once all that was completed, Bricks ‘R Us was “very cooperative,” Reynolds said, working a deal to replace the affected tiles for just the cost of shipping.

The order for the new tiles is set to ship within a week, Reynolds said, but it may get delayed because of the holiday. Once the order comes in, the replacement tiles installed in less than a week. Public works director Charles Beck and streets superintendent Estel Osborne have already put in the work order, and are ready to go.

Tiles for the veterans memorial and brick pavers for the square can be ordered through forms on the city’s website, in person at the first-floor collections department of city hall, or through calling the city at 828-757-2200. The deadline is the last week in March for the set of tiles that will arrive by Memorial Day 2014.