|the Moapa Valley community, has been at that location since the mid 1970s. The sign has been helpful in informing travellers of all the services and features that are available down the road from that point, Spencer said.
“A lot of people, especially drivers coming out from Las Vegas, drive without a map,” Spencer said. “This sign gives them an idea that there is an alternate scenic route back to Las Vegas through our community.”
But local business owners and residents had complained about the condition of the old sign for many years. The old sign was pocked with bullet holes and dents. It had also been marked up with spray paint grafitti. It had become, to many in the community, an embarrassing eyesore.
Discussion about finding a way to replace the old sign had been ongoing for many years. Community groups have long sought sources of grant funding for that purpose. But last month, Spencer decided to take matters into his own hands and get something done. He made some calls to the NDOT Glendale office and started the ball rolling.
|With help from a few friends and neighbors, Spencer got the panels laid out flat and used a sledge hammer to straighten out the dings. He used auto body putty to fill nearly 30 bulletholes that had been made. This at least got the sign straightened out. “If you look closely, it is still a little wavy,” Spencer said with a laugh. “But that just gives it an antique look.”
After thoroughly sanding the old painted surface off of the sign, Spencer began repainting the map. All the painting was done by hand. Spencer painted the green background and then drew the various roads on the map. For these he used a white paint with glass particles in it in hopes that it would reflect the light at night. The lettering on the map was done with 4-inch reflective letters applied to the surface by hand. The lettering was provided to him by the local NDOT officials.
As a final touch, Spencer wanted to add some graphic icons to show the main points of interest. He asked local artist Joyce Jones to paint a symbol for the Valley of Fire on the map. Spencer himself painted a representation of the Lost City Museum building.
The repairs only took about a week to complete. Once it was done, Spencer called the NDOT office again to schedule the reinstallation. About a week later on Tuesday, February 17, the NDOT crew came to the shop and picked up the completed sign. It was then installed it back in its place.
“I think that this will help out the businesses in the community,” Spencer said. “I hope that people will like it.”
The reaction of the business community was positive. “I think it is a vast improvement to our community,” said Moapa Valley Chamber of Commerce President Craig Haderlie. “I know the local businesses appreciate what Ralph has done. In a day when we, all to often, wait around for the government to take care of these things, Ralph has taken the initiative, made the calls, done the work and gotten it done. He is to be commended for this service.”