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Historic Church Starts Steeple Restoration Project
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EASTON, Pa. (WLVT) - As an older-model, paint-splattered Sharp radio plays in the background, Glenn Kanaley gets to work, painting the wood railings along the historic steeple of the First United Church of Christ.

"Easton is beautiful up here," he said. "Very much so."

Kanaley worked on the church in the 80's, the last time the steeple and clock tower were restored.

"It's really not as bad as I thought it would be when I came back here. The last paint job held up quite well," he said.

He said while he’s worked on several steeples around the Lehigh Valley, this one means more than others.

"[It's] designed by the same guy to do the Capitol rotunda, from what I understand," he said, "so, yeah, this is kind of special for me, and I'm kind of glad I got the opportunity to work on it again."

Last year, PBS39 went inside the historic steeple, as the church was raising money for the restoration. A project three years in the making finally started three weeks ago.

"We worked with a committee of dedicated people from the church and behind the scenes and in the community to try to push the word out," said Doreen Arnold, chairperson of the Save the First Steeple campaign, "and the success to me, I'm beside myself."

"It's kind of like Christmas," added Pastor Mike Dowd. "You see it coming, and you know it's going to be there. But once it arrives, it's so much more exciting to see the fellas up in the tower and doing the painting. It's fulfilling a dream."

The dream is coming true, thanks in part to Gordon Bennett Painting. The locally-owned business worked with the church to make it easier to reach its fundraising goal.

"We’re from Easton, born and raised," said company president L.J. Bennett. "Our business has been here for over 100 years, and it's just always a pleasure to work on a project that's going to affect the city in a positive way."

The church wants to raise $125,000, and so far, close to $100,000 has been secured, Arnold said. The restoration includes power washing, painting and removing rotten wood.

"Most of the work is on the wood railings," Bennett said. "They need a lot of repair and some epoxy consolidation, but most of the other parts are aluminum that'll hold up forever. Just needs a fresh coat of paint."

"Anything that's loose or hanging is what we're sanding down and knocking off," Kanaley added. "We're trying to get the edges knocked down."

The project will also add new bell strikers on the chimes, as well as new faces on the clocks.

"It's going to be beautiful, elegant, majestic," Arnold said. "It’s going to be a beautiful part of Easton again."

"Thomas Paine had been here," Dowd said. "Benjamin Franklin, Lafayette -- John Adams, we know is in the sanctuary. That's remarkable history. It’s something we have to preserve, and I think our community has stepped up."

The work is expected to wrap up in two weeks. The church plans to have a steeple lighting ceremony next month.

"Come on down, snap some pictures, and take a look," Arnold said. "It's really amazing."

To help the church reach its fundraising goal, you can donate to the steeple restoration fund HERE.