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Donated time helps ‘make over’ cross

The landmark, 60-year-old, 29-foot concrete Mount Soledad Korean War memorial cross is getting its first “makeover” in more than 40 years.

And the price tag for the work, valued at approximately $40,000, is zero thanks to pro bono work being done by Bay Cal Painting, Inc., with offices in Oceanside, San Francisco and Fresno.

Bay Cal selects one community project a year that its staff donates time and materials to for complete repair. Among past projects have been the Hillcrest sign, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Mission San Luis Rey and the famous Hollywood sign.

In August 2006, painting company principals and brothers David and Jim Codde were traveling along Interstate 5 when they heard on the radio that President Bush had transferred the Mount Soledad Memorial to the federal government. It was then, said Jim Codde, that they decided to do the cross work gratis.

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“We immediately made an aboutface to head to the mountaintop and assess the project,” he said. “Shortly thereafter we sent a proposal to the city of San Diego offering our service.”

Bay Cal staff is now using a 60-foot boom to reach the top of the 29-foot cross, which sits upon a 12-foot platform, surrounded by a wrought-iron fence.

Jim Codde said the cross is in vast need of restoration. It includes crumbling mortar, with inner metal rusting and areas where welding is required to restore the physical integrity of the structure.

Ed Ward, president of the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, a nonprofit 501(c)3 association, gave kudos to Bay Cal.

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“We (veterans) feel fortunate that the Codde family and their associated subcontractors were so generous as to provide this work, materials and support activities for the benefit of San Diego residents and the veterans’ community,” he said. “It’s certainly heartwarming at this time of year.”

Work has already begun on cross restoration, and, barring weather delays, is expected to be completed by the end of December.

“We’re hoping before the end of the month to unveil the final, completed refurbished product at a ceremony,” Ward said.

Ward added cross refurbishment is just the first step being taken by the association to enhance the safety and appearance of the memorial.

The association will be installing 500 feet of guardrails, including vertical railings that go all the way to the cross platform and horizontal guard railings along the concentric walls where black granite plaques including images of the veterans have been installed to honor U.S. veterans of all wars, living and deceased, from the Civil War up to current conflicts in the Middle East.