8-7 HorseSculpure.JPG

A view of the sculpture "Williamston" by Jonathan Bowling at the Statesville Sculpture Garden.

Saddle up Statesville.

City officials on Monday approved soliciting $8,000 in donations to buy the life-size horse statue currently on display in the city’s sculpture garden.

Once funded, the “Williamston” sculpture would get a new home at the northeast corner of Meeting Street and West Broad Street, according to the Community Appearance Commission’s plan.

Just hold your horses, one council member said. Could the art, with its jagged edges, pose a hazard to the drunken masses of downtown when they get a sudden urge to play cowboy?

"Where it is located now is sort of isolated but where it’s being moved to is sort of a pedestrian corridor,” Councilman John Stafford said at the meeting. “Is the structure safe to climb on?”

He wondered if the city would be held liable if, for example, a grandfather places a child on the horse for a photo and the child was injured.

Lynn Miller, superintendent of parks and public grounds, told Stafford that a sign near the sculpture garden tells visitors not to climb on the art. A similar sign will be posted if the statue is moved.

Mayor Costi Kutteh agreed that safety could be a concern but added that he thought it would be better to move the statue and then fence it in if people climb on it.

"People say the sculpture park is too isolated, and we need to move the stuff out where it can be more visible to the public,” Kutteh said. “I don’t know how you win that argument.”

The city’s sculpture garden, where private artists can display their work for sale, is at the corner of Water Street and Center Street.

Councilman Michael Johnson motioned for the city to “live vicariously” and buy the statue and put in appropriate signage once it is moved.

"And I will second that, assuming nobody takes ‘Wiliamston’ on a ride to the back 40,” Councilman William Morgan joked.

Stafford cast the lone no vote, saying he was concerned about the location.

"Williamston” was sculpted by Greenville artist Jonathan Bowling. The city negotiated to reduce the price from the original $10,000 Bowling was asking.

The city would still need to pony up some cash to pay for the moving and installation of the statue. That money will come from the Appearance Commission’s annual art budget.

City considers fees for card payments

Paying your Statesville utility bill online or over the phone may soon get a little more expensive.

The city is considering implementing a $2.75 fee for card payments made in those ways. The fee would offset charges the city incurs for card payments.

There’s an easy way to avoid the fee, though. The city can’t charge extra for payments made in person at the utility office.

The city finance director Ralph Staley told the council Monday that the fee could impede the city’s recent push to get customers to pay online instead of in person.

Customers could start seeing the fee as early as October, which is when the city expects a new customer service system for utility payments to go into effect.

The update from Staley did not require action from the council.

On Monday, the council also:

» Permitted the Statesville Police Department to apply for a $12,743 grant to buy new communications equipment

» Approved the spending of a $150,000 grant to assess the condition of the city’s water infrastructure

» Held a public hearing on condemning 1015 Randolph St.

» Held a public hearing on rezoning the Menheim Auto Auction

» Appointed Marin Tomlin over Keith Rhyne to a position on the Statesville Convention & Visitors Bureau and named Joseph Bondi as chairman, replacing outgoing chair Phil Hazel

» Approved an ordinance to amend four riders to maintain pass-through values from ElectriCities

» Approved the purchase of a bucket truck for $150,780, a digger derrick truck for $269,554, an automated garbage collection truck for $345,000 and a backhoe for $125,000.

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