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1Nov/03Off

Bart Starr statue warms the bench

Originally posted on PostCrescent.com.

By Andy Behrendt

More than three years since area folks first huddled up to support a proposed Bart Starr Plaza outside the Resch Center, the long-awaited statue of the legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback has yet to appear.

KI President Dick Resch insists he's called for the snap - that the monument has been designed and ordered ? but said this week he doesn't have a definite timeline for the statue as it awaits its casting date in a New York foundry.

"We'll get it done", Resch said. "We hope to have it done in the next six months."

The statue is to stand on the west side of the Resch Center's facade on Packer Drive, on the Green Bay-Ashwaubenon border. That area has seen major redevelopment in the past few years - with the new Resch Center arena, the renovated Lambeau Field and the new Brown County Veterans Memorial, which pays tribute to America's armed forces.

Michael Lord, a Milwaukee art dealer whom Resch contracted to manage the project, also worked on bringing the statues of sluggers Hank Aaron and Robin Yount to Miller Park in Milwaukee.

Lord said an extensive process has been under way since August 2002 to create the sculpture. He said Starr has posed for the sculpture on multiple occasions.

Health-insurance mogul Ron Weyers also has been a key player in the project.

"It took a little longer because Bart was intimately involved in the details of the sculpture, and Ron and Dick wanted this to be absolutely right", Lord said.

He didn't have details available about when Tallix, a monument-casting company in Beacon, N.Y., would cast the sculpture.

The statue depicts Starr standing, with his helmet off, as he appeared in 1966, Lord said. New York-based artist Brian Maughan sculpted the monument.

It will stand about 7 feet - "bigger than life-size", Resch said. "Of course, Bart was bigger than life-size."

Resch and Weyers first pitched the Bart Starr Plaza idea in September 2000 in a $500,000 fund-raising effort to honor Starr. In the same news conference, arena project leaders announced they would sell commemorative bricks for the plaza that would fund parts of the Resch Center.

The last 100 or so of about 350 total Bart Starr bricks, which sold for $75 to $1,000, will be installed next month, Ashwaubenon Village Finance Director Stephanie Meyers said. That leaves only the statue itself to take shape.

Resch said he and Weyers were still raising funds for the project, though he wouldn't give numbers. That effort continues despite the Ashwaubenon Village Board's decision this year to eventually rename Packer Drive to Armed Forces Way instead of Bart Starr Drive, as Resch had requested.

Although he was surprised that the plans were still on hold for the statue, Ashwaubenon President Nubs DeCleene said there wasn't an urgency to complete the project.

"We want to get the stand in (for the statue)", said DeCleene, an active leader in the Resch Center project. "We want to get that done before the winter. But other than that, there's no major hurry."

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