HOISINGTON — Along with the decorative pole art depicting soaring birds and historic scenes from Cheyenne Bottoms, new benches with creatures of the earth now line Main Street in Hoisington as well.
Conceived by Hoisington Main Street Inc. and the Jaycees/Hoisington Area Recreation Project group and built by home grown artisans Bruce and Brent Bitter of B & B Metalarts, the benches will allow those with weary feet and Labor Day parade watchers a place to rest.
“I’m pleased with how everything turned out,” said Bruce. The two Bitters completed the benches in two-and-a-half weeks.
The HMSI design committee worked with the Bitters on the designs. At a cost of approximately $20,000, the benches are made of baked-on black coated steel. The funds were donated by the Jaycees and HARP.
Also a part of the project will be five 20-gallon trash containers with designs that will be completed after Labor Day. Four will be placed on Main Street and the other at the grocery store.
There are different designs on the medallions at the ends of the benches. The plodding box turtle, mourning dove, yellow tiger salamander, badger, dragonfly, butterfly, raccoon, avocet, beaver, western silvery minnow, cardinal, eagle, and a black-tailed hare keep each end of the benches. All of these species are present in the Cheyenne Bottoms area.
Now, a place was found for all of the creatures Bruce researched for the pole art in 2006.
Nine of the benches will have backs, and the eight placed on Main Street are backless. HMSI found the design for the benches and Bruce designed the medallions.
The work deliberately was less intricate than the pole art for safety reasons. There are no sharp Vs or corners where tiny fingers could get smashed.
“It’s more of a challenge to keep it simple,” said Bruce. “I do keep safety in mind.”
In addition, area suppliers were used for the entire project, including metal, welding supplies and a long list of volunteers.
Each bench weights 240-300 pounds. “They are not going anywhere,” said Bruce. The total weight was 4,000 pounds and a forklift was needed to put them in place. City crews placed the benches.
Plus, Bruce got to order some new machinery for the project called an Iron Worker. It bends metal, punches holes and allows steel pieces to be cut to length.
Feedback on the benches has been very positive. “We’re very pleased with the benches,” said Jean Brinlee, HMSI. “Bless the Jaycees who came forward and said they’ll fund it. It was a huge investment on their part.”
In addition, for the upcoming holiday, the hangers for the pole art have been replaced and all of the art has been rehung, all in an effort to promote tourism, economics and to beautify the community.