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City of Peoria Press Release

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Pioneer Memorial Dedication Slated for September 22

After nearly three years in the making, the Peoria Pioneer Memorial will be unveiled.


Peoria, Arizona, September 10, 2007 – The City of Peoria will officially dedicate the Peoria Pioneer Memorial at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, September 22, 2007 in Oldtown Peoria at the southwest corner of 83rd Avenue, Washington Street, and Grand Avenue.  Gary Sandberg, a Councilmember from the City of Peoria, Illinois, will attend the dedication ceremony to represent the Peoria, Illinois-to-Peoria, Arizona connection.

Colorado artist Emanuel Martinez, who was selected in 2005 for the project, created the memorial, which consists of a four-sided bronze bas-relief sculpture that will serve as an entry feature to Oldtown at the intersection of 83rd Avenue and Grand Avenue.  Each side of the 13-foot sculpture depicts various scenes including a farmer, a woman harvesting cotton, a man herding sheep, and Peoria’s historic central school.

“The sculpture honors the contributions of the many pioneer families who helped shape Peoria's future and its history,” says Vice Mayor Vicki Hunt, who was instrumental in working with the various parties to make the project a reality.

In 2004, civic and community leaders established the Peoria Pioneer Memorial Committee, with the support of the Peoria Arizona Historical Society, to create a Peoria Pioneer memorial.  Long-time resident and civic leader Priscilla Cook came up with the idea of the memorial several years ago.

“Most cities have similar memorials that recognize the founders of those communities,” says Cook, who has lived in Peoria since 1929.

Over $50,000 was raised by the committee’s grassroots efforts that included contributions from civic leaders, businesses, families, and individuals in the community.  The Peoria Arts Commission matched the $50,000 for a total project budget of $100,000.

During the summer of 2005, the Peoria Arts Commission began a nationwide call to artists for the memorial project.  The call to artists generated 56 entries from artists as far away as New York City and Puerto Rico.  A selection committee was created and included Vice Mayor Vicki Hunt and former Councilmember Pat Dennis, Peoria historian Priscilla Cook, arts commissioners John Buonagurio and Maureen Flanigan, Peoria Arizona Historical Society representatives Harold McKisson and Lee Turner, local artist Richard Acott, community representative Ken Feldman, and City staff.  After reviewing the artists’ proposals and their previous public art projects, the selection committee recommended Emanuel Martinez of Morrison, Colorado, to create the Peoria Pioneer Memorial.

Artist Emanuel Martinez plans to install the sculpture on Thursday, September 20, 2007.  The sculpture will arrive from Colorado and then a crane will lower the sculpture components onto a pad of structurally reinforced concrete.  Martinez and an associate will bolt the large-scale sculpture and its structural frame one side at a time to the concrete.

A new plaza has been created for the Peoria Pioneer Memorial.  The plaza consists of trees, shrubbery, and planters with built-in seating, and floodlights to illuminate the sculpture at night.  The plaza area will contain bricks with the family names of the original Peoria pioneers as well as the names of donors who contributed money to the Peoria Arizona Historical Society for the project.

For more information about the Peoria Pioneer Memorial project, please contact Grady Miller, Communications and Public Affairs Director, at (623) 773-7300.