Arts committee seeks approval for $15K mural

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The mural depicts a collection of items representing Galax history, culture

By Shannon Watkins

Banners, boards and budgets dominated the July 9 Galax City Council meeting after recognitions, retirements and installations.


Chris Pollins, in her role as head of the city’s Public Arts Committee, requested that council present the Galax Planning Commission with a sketch for a mural to be done on the low wall outside Chestnut Creek School of the Arts’ West Oldtown Street woodworking studio.

Pollins is also director of the school.

The design chosen is by Michael Cooper of Murals & More, a Tennessee company specializing in this type of work. Pollins said that Cooper, in business for over 35 years, spent a day touring the city and familiarizing himself with it.

“Our purpose here tonight is to give you an idea of the feel of it,” said Pollins, holding up a banner. “What drew us to him is his trump l’oeil style, which means it looks three-dimensional, and that’s a bit of the eye appeal and energy that we wanted. Sometimes murals can look static and still, but this is very lively.”

The design shows a collection of items related to Galax, from musical instruments and bike helmets to quilts and cowboy boots, on shelves and cabinets.

The planning commission must approve the design before it is sent back to council for final approval.

“There’s so much detail, tell me a little about it,” said Vice Mayor Sharon Plichta. “Is this tile?”

“No, it’s paint,” said Pollins. “This is all flat on a flat wall,” though the use of shadows and perspective makes it appear three-dimensional.

Plichta asked about potential water problems with the mural, but Pollins said that the artist puts a sealant down first, then paints, then finishes with a top coating, leaving it intact and beautiful “for at least 10 years,” said Pollins.

“I love it,” said Council Member Travis Hayes.

“I hope it turns out as good as the Grayson Street Stage [mural],” said Plichta. “That is just wonderful.”

Haynes asked Brenda Marrah — the city grant writer, who is also on the Public Arts Committee — if a grant was involved in this mural.

“Not in this one, no,” said Marrah.

The cost is $15,000, to be paid for by the Public Arts Committee.

Budgets Appropriated

Council voted to appropriate the Fiscal Year 2019 city budget and Fiscal Year 2019 Galax City Schools budget. The total city budget is $24.8 million for the general fund, which includes social services; $9.5 million for the utility fund and $129,500 for the stormwater fund.

The school budget is $15.3 million, of which $3.9 million is from local funds and $138,968 is debt service, which does not include any debt service for the elementary school renovation project.

The budgets were previously approved, but required appropriation to be put to use.

There were no speakers at a public hearing for a Fiscal Year 2018 budget amendment, which Finance Director Judy Taylor-Gallimore said “is just a bookkeeping measure we’ve done lots of times in the past.”

The total amount was for $1.1 million for loan proceeds and expenditures from the elementary school project, tourism revenue and expenditures, grant proceeds, awards and other expenditures. Because the change totals more than one percent, a public hearing was needed.

Council approved the amendment.


There was also a flurry of appointments to various boards and committees, as members’ terms have expired.

Council Member Willie Greene’s term on the Crossroads Board of Directors expired on June 30. Though he was eligible for another term, Greene stated, “I had a tough time making it to some of the meetings,” and declined reappointment. “It may be better to have someone else,” he said.

Greene serves on a number of both state and local boards and committees.

He added, with a touch of humor, “I will add they do feed you some.”

Council held off making an appointment at this time.

Council appointed:

• Council Member Ches Helmick for District III and Council Member Bill Davis as alternate;

• Haynes to the Workforce Investment Board and Council Member Sharon Ritchie as alternate;

• Haynes to the Rooftop of Virginia, E-911 and Wired Road boards;

• Davis to the Galax-Grayson EMS board;

• Ritchie to the Planning Commission and Bottom Area boards;

• Greene and Greene to the Traffic Safety Committee.

Other Action

In other action, council:

• approved the publication of the delinquent taxes list, as of June 30. Taylor-Gallimore noted that anyone who had paid before the list was sent out would be removed from it.

• voted to accept a donated tax parcel along East Stuart Drive.

The city will begin assessment and work with the Industrial Development Authority on potential development of the site.