October 16, 2008 in Voices - Spokesman-Review
Message on a mission
Man vows to care for ‘World Peace’ sign
Amy Cannata Staff writer
Steve Osmonson has painted and maintains the World Peace sign on Hatch Road in Spokane.
Steve Osmonson is winning his own private war, and to mark the victory he’s dedicating himself to world peace.
Or at least to maintaining a homemade Hatch Road sign dedicated to the cause on Spokane’s South Hill.
Osmonson recently completed intensive inpatient and outpatient treatment for alcoholism through Spokane’s VA Medical Center.
“They said, ‘One more drink and you’re dead.’ My liver was shutting down,” he said.
During downtime following that treatment, he began thinking about a sign he’d painted more than a decade ago on two concrete barriers along the side of Hatch Road, just south of 57th Avenue.
Over the years graffiti had covered over the sign with tagging, strange messages and profanity. Others had tried to step in to restore the “world peace” message as best they could, but the barrier looked shabby.
So Osmonson committed himself to repainting it and keeping it clear of graffiti.
“It’s amazing what you can do when you have a clear head,” he said.
The 53-year-old has a painting background.
He and his brother owned a painting company for years. Though Osmonson can’t quite remember why, somewhere along the way he began painting “World Peace” on large buildings prior to the final coat of paint.
At times the building owners cringed. In other places, the message was a big hit.
“About 10 years ago I saw this Jersey barrier and thought it would be a good place for a ‘World Peace’ sign,” he said.
Thinking it was on public right of way, Osmonson painted his message. “It kept getting tagged. I kept fixing it,” he said.
Turns out the sign is on private property. After recent negotiations with the landowner and promises that he would make sure the Jersey barrier didn’t become a graffiti magnet again, Osmonson fixed it up.
As he’s worked on the sign, drivers have stopped to give him kudos or honked in appreciation.
Now Osmonson has landscaped above the barrier and applied multiple coats of anti-graffiti sealer on top of the white paint and blue “World Peace” letter decals. The sealer will make it possible to clean graffiti off the sign.
“I’m going to keep putting coats on there until the snow flies,” he said. “I’m married to it.”
Amy Cannata can be reached at (509) 459-5197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.