Register restoration commences

Register Reporter

Register/Richard Luken
Above, Gerry Polreis of Mid-Continental Restoration Company, Inc. uses a hammer and chisel to chip away mortar from the Register building at 302 S. Washington Ave. At right, Donnie Parker kicks up dust as he grinds away at the mortar.

After 83 years, the Iola Register building at 302 S. Washington Ave. has sprung a few leaks.
A healthy rain storm coupled with a brisk north wind usually sent employees scurrying for buckets and sheets of plastic to protect computers, paper and other equipment from intruding rainwater.
Enter crews from Mid-Continental Restoration Company, Inc. of Fort Scott, a firm that specializes in refurbishing old buildings.
Since Monday, Mid-Continental has been tuck-pointing the building: replacing crumbling mortar from between the building’s bricks to make the structure water-tight once again.
The process starts with a healthy cleaning, by way of a power sprayer and bucket truck. From there, crews use grinders to clear away the deteriorating mortar before fresh “mud” is applied.
“You’ll be able to see the difference between what it looks like now and when we’re finished,” said Johnny Perez, project manager for Mid-Continental.
Indeed, the power sprayer returned dark and dingy mortar to its original color, giving the grinders a much clearer view of how much mortar needs to be replaced.
“There are quite a few cracks and voids in this building,” Perez confirmed.
The process will end with an additional coat of water sealant after the fresh mortar is applied to ensure the building remains rain-proof.
The project will take about two weeks.
Mid-Continental Restoration has a workforce of 400 and is the largest traveling contractor in the restoration industry, according to the company’s Web site.
The company has offices in seven states — the Kansas branch is in Fort Scott — and handles restoration and remedial water-proofing in 25 states from Colorado to North Carolina and North Dakota to Georgia.
The building has served as the home of the Register since it was built in 1926.