The intersection of Fulton and Elm streets in Wauseon will look a bit more colorful once the mural project is completed before the end of summer by the Wauseon Beautification Team and its members.
The idea for the project began with a collaboration between Wauseon Mayor Kathy Huner and city resident Vic Cales. And…a prayer.
“I was down on a corner there where the parking lot is by the railroad tracks across from what’s now the magic center some years ago. And our downtown was very run down. I was sitting on a corner praying, and literally was just praying that God would beautify downtown. Before WBT (Wauseon Beautification Team) ever existed,” Cales said. “I had no idea but at the same time, it was actually our Mayor Kathy Huner who wanted a mural in our city. And we happened to have a meet up conversation, and I told her about praying for downtown to be beautified and a mural. She’s like, ‘that’s unbelievable.’ So we actually, her and I, started working on bringing a mural (to downtown).”
From there, the two started working on bringing the idea to fruition.
Cales, a pastor at The Church of Wauseon, eventually started the non-profit organization WBT.
The organization consists of roughly 147 high school students and 70 adults. A membership costs $15 for the year, and its goal is to create and promote a beautiful environment within the city. Which they hope this mural project helps to accomplish.
What’s more, they want this to be the first of many murals created within city limits.
The building at the site of this endeavor, owned by CenturyLink, did not have a new paint job in the company’s budget. So, they had no problem granting permission for the property to be used for the mural.
Work on the building got underway in early July. WBT members began by powerwashing it, patching some cracks, and then onto the painting.
The background has been painted, as well as the script Wauseon.
The rest of the design is still being discussed. But, according to Cales, it will likely be a silhouette of one or two young children looking up at the Wauseon Christmas Star, as if looking into their future.
Wauseon’s high school art department, in particular teacher Mike Colon, is leading the way on the project. “He’s sort of our quarterback,” stated Cales.
Although not yet complete, the mural is already drawing attention within the community. Especially with the annual Homecoming event taking place last week.
“We’ve had so many compliments,” Cales said of the feedback he and others in WBT have received. “Even in the (Homecoming) parade, we had people coming up thanking us for how much better that corner looks. We’re glad to do it because it affects places like Passion 4 Fashion; it affects people like Sullivans because it makes that whole corner of our business district (look better). That’s the third busiest intersection I believe in Fulton County. So you can imagine how many cars have looked at that chipped off paint, broken building.
“Our heart and base is just to serve the city. To help it be better. We would rather do something, than to be somebody that sits around and complains and does nothing.”
Cales said they’ve had many chip in to help with the mural so far. Even a mother and her daughter, a fourth grader, volunteered their time to aid in painting a portion of it.
It gives those involved a sense of pride, Cales explained.
“It’s not done by one artist, it’s done by us. It’s done by our people; it’s not somebody from out of town,” he said.
A lot of credit goes to Mayor Huner in kick-starting the project. “Our Mayor Kathy Huner, she’s the one that started this thing. Give her props,” noted Cales.
The first money donated was $1,500 by North Clinton Church, given to the city for the mural. Cales’ church has raised over $4,000 for various WBT projects, including the mural.
When asked how the mural — once finished — will help the look of downtown Wauseon, Cales pointed to how a ‘cleaner’ environment downtown could help create a more positive outlook in the city.
WBT will do everything it can to make Wauseon a brighter place to live.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.