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Ronald Reagan lifeguard-statue plan standing still in Dixon 

Posted by | January 10, 2017 | Lifeguards

Three years ago, Ronald Reagan enthusiasts in his boyhood hometown of Dixon, Ill., started a drive to place a statue depicting the former president as a lifeguard in the park where he held that job for seven summers.Then the man leading the effort, Dixon Mayor Jim Burke, died in February 2016, and the campaign for the lifeguard statue stalled. That’s where it has remained.”He was our big gun,” John Weitzel, a supporter of the statue idea and lifelong Dixon resident, said of Burke. “It’s a great idea and a wonderful plan that just went off into limbo and nobody would pick up the baton. It’s a shame.”Burke started the statue drive in 2013, a year before he announced he would not seek re-election to a fifth term. He had raised about $7,000 for a tentative design of what was estimated to be a $200,000 privately funded project to create and erect the statue along the banks of the Rock River north of town.Paid Post WHAT’S THIS? Forget Social Security if you Own a Home (Do This)A Message from MorningFinanceIf you own a home, you should read this. Thousands of homeowners did this yesterday, and banks are furious! Do this now before it’s…See More Planned Reagan sculpture strides toward the land of myth-makingA few months after he left office, Burke, 78, died in his home.The Lowell Park beach is a significant place in Reagan’s history. He reportedly pulled 77 people from the water over the summer working there, although locals joke that at least a few of those were young women who faked their distress to be rescued by the handsome lifeguard.”There are a lot of people who’ll come to town for a Reagan visit, and the first thing they ask is, ‘Where is Lowell Park?'” Burke told the Tribune in February 2014. “Then they’ll ask where the boyhood home is.”He added that he “thought it was finally time to grab the bull by the horns and get this thing done.”Weitzel estimated that about 60 percent of the visitors to Reagan’s boyhood home would ask directions to “that beach where he saved all those lives.Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon is falling apart”I just thought it would be a great asset to increase tourism” and would fit with Dixon’s objective to become a “small-town mecca for tourism and entertainment,” Weitzel said.Dixon, a town of about 16,000 that stands 102 miles west of Chicago on the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway, already has two Reagan statues: one at his boyhood home on Hennepin Avenue and another, also along the Rock River, depicting young Reagan on horseback.The 240-acre Lowell Park has a bronze plaque at the beach commemorating Reagan’s service as lifeguard. A circular diving platform from his time also is on display there, Dixon Park District Executive Director Debra Carey said. She added that his guard chair is on exhibit at the Loveland Community House & Museum in town.”It’s not like he’s been forgotten,” she said.To revive the lifeguard statue project, Carey said, “It takes a person who is completely dedicated and making phone calls every day. It could be done.”tgregory@chicagotribune.comTwitter @tgregoryreports

Source: Ronald Reagan lifeguard-statue plan standing still in Dixon – Chicago Tribune

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