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FRANKSTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Mike Woodling of Williamsburg is willing to put his artistic touch on almost anything from a painted wheelbarrow to a motorcycle.
But Woodling's legacy will likely remain on the walls of local structures, like the Frankstown Municipal Building.
"He did a wonderful job," Frankstown Township Secretary Beverly Henderson said about the mural Woodling painted at the front of the building's meeting room. The artwork was part of a remodeling project the township completed last year that updated the former school, which also serves as a voting precinct.
The focus of the mural is a rendering of the red-brick building, as it might have looked in the 1930s and 1940s when the structure was the community's two-room school. The mural also includes renderings of the veterans memorial that stands at the corner of Frankstown Road and Route 22 and the Korean War memorial that is part of the township's park in Geeseytown.
"I think that entire mural is absolutely beautiful," said Ronald McCleary, a Korean War veteran who spearheaded the effort to build the Korean War Memorial in 2011. Seeing that memorial included in the mural, he said, was amazing.
"I never even dreamed of something like that," McCleary said.
Woodling said he is proud of how the mural turned out and the reaction.
"I started with about three or four old photos of the grade school, then someone loaned me a photo album," Woodling said.
"Then, some people who remembered the old school came in and told me about a fence in front of it so I put that in. They couldn't remember if the had two or three rails, but they did remember how they had to go around the fence to get into the school."
Blanche Weyant of Scotch Valley Road was one of the people who provided photos and looked for photos to help Woodling. Weyant, 81, was a student at that school in the mid-1940s, along with her siblings.
"When I go in and look at the mural, it brings back memories," Weyant said.
The school had two classrooms, one for first through fourth grades and the other for fifth through eighth grades. The fifth-through-eighth grades classroom is now the meeting room, and that's where Weyant spent her school days after her family moved to Frankstown in 1942.
"I still remember where the furnace was in that room," she said.
As for the remodeling, Weyant praised the township and Woodling.
"I think his mural really adds something to that room," Weyandt said.
Woodling, who said he always enjoyed artwork, enrolled at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh after graduating in 1988 from Northern Bedford County High School. He now lives in Williamsburg with his family and runs his own business called Woodling Airbrush and Pinstriping LLC. He said he stays busy painting motorcycles, signs, murals, mailboxes, menus and handling any requests for commissioned artwork.
"Early on, I often did race cars and stock cars," he said. "But now, I do a lot more motorcycles, and the sign business has picked up."
Woodling's work takes him to motorcycle shows, where he uses pinstripes and paint to personalize the two-wheeled prize possessions.
"The shows are fun," he said. "And it seems like there's always a crowd behind me, watching what I'm going to do, talking about what color I'm picking."
Besides the mural on the wall of the Frankstown Municipal Building, Woodling said he painted the mural on the outside wall of the Allegheny Street building in Martinsburg that houses Mamie's Cafe and Bakery. He also created the murals inside the Altoona-Blair County Airport terminal building, years ago when the building was newer he said.
Frankstown Township Supervisor George W. Henry said he recommended using Woodling to paint the mural because he is familiar with his work. Woodling previously painted Dale Earnhardt vehicles on the walls of Henry's used car dealership in Hollidaysburg.
"He's a neat guy who can paint something out of nothing," Henry said. "And I figured that since the meeting room is the place where people come, it would be nice to have something on the wall that deals with the township history."
While the remodeling job included new drywall, paint, carpeting, recessed lights and a large entry door, Henderson said the meeting room's mural seems to draw the most attention.
"Every time people come in here, I tell them this is the room I like best," she said.
Information from: Altoona Mirror, http://www.altoonamirror.com
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