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Wednesday, 28 December 2011 20:07

Waynesville begins fund drive to pay for historic arch replica

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Donations are already rolling in for the Waynesville Art Commission’s latest public art piece, a replica of the historic Smokies’ arch over Main Street, but the group is still looking for donors.

“I am real pleased with the response so far,” said Jan Griffin, head of the art commission.

The art commission has already sent out its first wave of fundraising letters to many of the established local families of Waynesville and plans to mail more letters in the coming weeks. The donations will help pay for a “Gateway to the Smokies” arch, which will be installed in the mini-park at the corner of Main and Depot streets. The original arch spanned Main Street itself for several decades, proclaiming the town as the “Eastern Entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

So far, the commission has received about $2,000 in private donations toward a new Waynesville arch that will cost between $5,000 and $6,000.

“We are very pleased with that,” said Griffin. “The interest is very, very high. We’ve got an awful lot of really excited people about it.”

With one possible exception.

Town Manager Lee Galloway received a phone call from Bryson City Town Manager Lee Callicutt a couple of months ago regarding the wording on the arch. The piece will read “Gateway to the Smokies,” a slogan that Bryson City has used on its seal and police department badges for decades.

“He said that he had been directed to pass the concern of the Town of Bryson City on to me,” Galloway said.

Some in Bryson were less than thrilled that Waynesville’ arch would bear their catch phrase. Nothing else came of the concern.

The art commission has created and installed three permanent public art pieces around town during the past few years. The latest addition will be the archway, the second art piece referencing the Smokies in the mini-park on the corner across from the historic courthouse. Already in place is a metal railing with mountain peaks and salamanders.

The art commission premiered its artistic renderings of the arch earlier this fall.

Ed Kelley, who has headed the project, is now taking the sketches of the arch to an engineer who will act as a consultant, suggesting specifically how the arch will be made and what it will be made of.

“Everything has to be very specific,” Kelley said.

Once the parameters are set, the commission will take bids from several area artists and award the project to the lowest bidder.

People who wish to donate to help pay for the arch can write a check to the Town of Waynesville and drop it at the municipal building on Main Street. Donors should note that the money is for the art project in the memo line.

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