Brand new sculp­ture in La Plata com­mem­o­rates 2002 tor­nado

Rep­re­sents 15 year calm after the storm

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIFFANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

The Town of La Plata now has a com­mem­o­ra­tive sculp­ture that cap­tures the per­se­ver­ance of the town when it suf­fered hard­ship and grief.

At this year’s Cel­e­brate La Plata event Satur­day, the town un­veiled a 15 foot sculp­ture cre­ated to com­mem­o­rate the day the tor­nado struck La Plata on April 28, 2002.

“The Star Sculp­ture stands as tes­ta­ment to the chaos that hap­pened 15 years ago. The star at the top high­lights the ris­ing of calm after the

storm,” said Judy Nor­ris, chair of the Beau­ti­fi­ca­tion Com­mit­tee for the Town of La Plata.

Those who gaze at the sculp­ture will see black iron rods twist­ing up­wards and fin­ish­ing at the top where a sil­ver star is the cen­ter of at­ten­tion. The sculp­ture weighs 2,800 pounds and stands about 15 feet high.

Nor­ris said the sculp­ture had al­ready been in the works since March 2016, with sculp­tor Lew Martin, owner of In­dian Head Iron Works, and with guid­ance from the Beau­ti­fi­ca­tion Com­mit­tee. Mem­bers of the Beau­ti­fi­ca­tion Com­mit­tee that helped or­ga­nize the Star Sculp­ture are Kathy Cox, Dianne Goodrich, Rose Gold­smith, Jan­ice Gil­roy, coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tive Wayne Win­kler and staff li­ai­son Danielle Man­d­ley.

“The tor­nado means de­struc­tion — it’s a de­struc­tive weather phe­nom,” Martin said. “The star rep­re­sents per­se­ver­ance. It shows the strength and the will of the town so I want ev­ery­one to con­cen­trate on the star be­cause we know we can de­feat any­thing. The first tor­nado hit in 1926, the town came back and it hap­pened again in 2002.”

Ac­cord­ing to Martin, the en­tire sculp­ture is made of steel. The star on top is made of stain­less steel with tub­ing around the star for added di­men­sion. He said it took four at­tempts to get the sculp­ture right but the ef­fort was worth it be­cause he loves the town.

Nor­ris said after many round­table dis­cus­sions and sev­eral tweaked repli­cas of de­signs, the fi­nal replica was pre­sented to the coun­cil and ad­min­is­tra­tion in late 2016.

“The sculp­ture rep­re­sents for me and for oth­ers the twisted chaos the night that the tor­nado hap­pened,” said Coun­cil­man C. Keith Back. “I was down­town walk­ing the streets and there were places that I couldn’t rec­og­nize — it was tough. The star rep­re­sents the calm: the calm after the storm, the calm of the peo­ple that helped, the calm of all the ci­ti­zens who joined in to make the town what it is to­day, “

Coun­cil­man Joseph Nor­ris said the star on the top of the sculp­ture re­minds him of a sim­i­lar one that used to be on the wa­ter tower be­fore the tor­nado struck. “You could see the star on the wa­ter tower from a dis­tance and know that you were get­ting close to home,” Nor­ris said.

“The sculp­ture helps us re­mem­ber that things were twisted but the star rep­re­sents how the town stood to­gether,” said Coun­cil­man Lynn Gil­roy. “Thank you to the beau­ti­fi­ca­tion com­mit­tee, La Plata Mill & Sup­ply Co Inc. and all those who had a hand in this.”

Mayor Roy G. Hale said the sculp­ture is un­usual in a way but an out­stand­ing el­e­ment of the town.

“It’s been 15 years since the de­struc­tion that we’ve ex­pe­ri­enced and to have a struc­ture like that with a whirl­wind pat­tern demon­strat­ing the ef­fect of the tor­nado, that sym­bol­izes the strength and vi­tal­ity of the town,” Hale said. “[Martin] did an out­stand­ing job de­sign­ing it, build­ing it, putting his own time and some of his own money into it. The sculp­ture will stand as a re­mem­brance of the tor­nado for a very long time.”

Nor­ris said in the fu­ture the sculp­ture will even­tu­ally be lighted and have four benches added to the base where one can sit and en­joy the sur­round­ings. For now, the ci­ti­zens of the town can marvel at the unique sculp­ture ev­ery time they walk by Town Hall.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIFFANY WAT­SON

Sculp­tor Lew Martin, the La Plata Town Coun­cil, and mem­bers of the Beau­ti­fi­ca­tion Com­mit­tee await the sculp­ture ded­i­ca­tion at Town Hall on April 29. Below left, Lew Martin, sculp­tor and owner of In­dian Head Iron Works, speaks dur­ing the sculp­ture ded­i­ca­tion at Town Hall on April 29. Ac­cord­ing to Judy Nor­ris, chair of the Beau­ti­fi­ca­tion Com­mit­tee for the Town of La Plata, the sculp­ture weighs 2,800 pounds and stands about 15 feet high.

STAFF PHOTO BY TIFFANY WAT­SON

Lew Martin, sculp­tor and owner of In­dian Head Iron Works, with his ap­pren­tice welder Matt McCain, stand by the fin­ished sculp­ture at La Plata Town Hall on April 29.

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