Area gets coat of graffiti guard

YOUNGSTOWN -- It's not every day you see a Mahoning County sheriff's major shooting spray paint onto a freeway overpass, but on Friday, Maj. Michael Budd took his turn.
The red paint splattered as it hit the freshly painted concrete.
"There," he said. "A sheriff's star."
It didn't last long. As soon as the paint hit the wall, it began to ripple and slightly fade.
Minutes later, Bill Wittman Jr. wiped the star with a compound that looked like water. It's five points ran down the wall like red rain.
It was then easily wiped away.
Wittman, of the Mahoning Paint Corp. in Youngstown, joined Budd to demonstrate the effectiveness of a new graffiti-resistant paint-and-cleaner team.
About the product
"Erase-A-Fiti," manufactured at the corporation's Jones Street plant, has two components. First, an additive is mixed with paint that is rolled, brushed or sprayed onto a surface.
Once the painted surface has dried for 24 hours, the Erase-A-Fiti cleaner can remove any graffiti sprayed over it.
Minimum-security county jail inmates worked Thursday to repaint the footbridge. The major and paint company workers returned to test it out.
Budd said the I-680 footbridge at Elberen Street and the Wickliffe Service Road has been a favorite spot for numerous graffiti-painting vandals. Since last summer, he said, inmates have painted over graffiti at the West Side spot three times.
The overpass will no longer be a billboard for gangs wanting to display their colors.
And lovebirds eager to proclaim their affections with a splash of "James + Loretta = Tru Luv 4ever," will have to find a new venue.
Donations made
The Mahoning Valley Paint Corp. has donated to the sheriff's department five gallons of the $29.75-per-gallon paint and activator duos. The company has also donated cleaner. Budd said the company, and others, have made donations of paint and other items in the past to help sand blast and cover up graffiti.
Wittman said there was an interest in this type of product which can be used on many surfaces, including concrete and steel. Waste disposal companies have also asked the paint company for help with removing or preventing graffiti on commercial trash containers.
With the new product, Budd said, work crews will be able to remove the graffiti from popular spots around the county more quickly and more often.
"Graffiti strips the neighborhood of its dignity," he said. "If we get rid of it, the dignity comes back. This whole corner looks the way it's supposed to again."

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