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New design for Reagan statue; bridge work on hold

Project, bridge work likely won’t get done this year

DIXON – The city’s next Ronald Reagan statue will look a little different than the one unveiled in February.

The statue, which will eventually be placed in Lowell Park, will still depict a young Reagan as a lifeguard running toward the water. But it has been redesigned, Mayor Jim Burke said.

“We just didn’t feel that it expressed the way Reagan looked at the time he was a lifeguard,” the mayor said. 

Raising $200,000 for the statue was among the 18 goals Burke announced in January as worthy projects for the city this year.

Hitting that fundraising figure and refurbishing the Galena Avenue bridge are the two goals that are unlikely to be finished by the end of the year, he said.

Fundraising for the statue has been slow. Four musical tribute shows were scheduled to raise money, but they were later canceled because of funding issues.

Individual donations and the big fundraising push were delayed some, Burke said, because the appearance of the statue is one of the biggest elements of the campaign. And the first design didn’t satisfy.

The new design includes a pedestal for the statue and four choices of height – 6, 7, 8 or 10 feet.

The group working to make the statue a reality is expected to meet in the next week to decide on the height. A larger statue has advantages, because such artwork tends to look smaller in an open environment, Burke said. The Abraham Lincoln statue near the Galena Avenue bridge is 10 feet tall but looks shorter, he noted.

Gary Tillery and Omri Amrany of Rotblatt Amrany Fine Arts Studio, the same artists who developed the initial design, did the redesign and will sculpt the statue, Burke said.

The studio also sculpted the Michael Jordan statue outside the United Center, and Amrany and Tillery have worked together on other sculptures, including the Pat Tillman statue for the Arizona Cardinals in Tempe, Arizona.

Bridge work to wait

Work to refurbish the Galena Avenue bridge – including the railings and light poles – isn’t expected to happen this year, said Colleen Brechon, commissioner of public property.

“There is some talk about how we’re going to get that accomplished,” she said. “It’s never been placed in the budget, and my feeling is that ... everybody who comes into the community comes across that bridge, and it needs to be refurbished.”

Brechon said she had reached out to some local businesses about the work, but had not done much to get it going, because she knows it won’t happen this year.

She wants it to be in the budget for next fiscal year.

Burke said he expects the work to be a major project.

Paint on the railings on both sides of the bridge has peeled, and the metal has rusted in some areas.

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