October 01, 2007


Mural on Polkville barn celebrates upcoming bicentennial


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Local artist Jack Kampney removes tape from the mural of Cortland County’s bicentennial that he is painting on the side of a Polkville barn on Weaver Road.

Staff Reporter

Painting on a 16-foot tall by 60-foot wide canvas can be a challenge, according to Jack Kampney, who has begun painting a mural in celebration of Cortland County’s 2008 bicentennial on the side of a barn in Polkville.
“You do lose sight of what you’re doing from time to time,” Kampney said Saturday, as he touched up the top portion of the mural. “You’ve got to step back and take a look every once in awhile.”
Kampney is painting the mural, on the south side of a barn owned by Chuck Lacey located on Weaver Road in Polkville, at the behest of the Cortland County Bicentennial Committee, which is funding the project with a $5,500 grant from the state Council on the Arts.
The mural will be visible from anyone headed north into Cortland County along Route 11 and, once the leaves start falling, from certain points along Interstate 81.
Saturday, Kampney was putting the finishing touches on a banner reading “Cortland County Bicentennial” on the south side of Lacey’s barn before moving on to more detailed images reflecting the industry, culture and beauty of the county’s history.
Lacey, who came out to check on Kampney’s progress Saturday, joked that the earliest phases of the painting had stirred up some confusion amongst his friends.
One friend politely asked when Lacey would be opening his hamburger stand, he said.
“She said, ‘Well, you’ve got that big hamburger painted on your barn,’ and when I thought about it, it really did kind of look like a hamburger at that point,” Lacey laughed.
Since then, Kampney has divided the orange, oval central panel, which Lacey’s friend mistook for a hamburger bun, with the rolling, picturesque hills of Cortland County.
Kampney has a proposed sketch of his finished painting that will include a center panel showing a sun-stained Tioughnioga River, with historic longboats and canoes meandering down the river and a herd of cattle grazing in the foreground.
Two side panels, meanwhile, will feature trains, Brockway trucks, and other details from Cortland’s history.
“I spent about a month with the Cortland Historical Society … they know a lot about what happened in this area and when,” Kampney said.
“The first meeting we had about this, we came up with a long list of things,” Lacey said. “I took one look at it and thought, ‘Is there even going to be enough barn for all this?’”
Kampney said his sketch for the barn was just a rough rendering, and that the painting would evolve as he works.
Both he and Lacey discussed Cortland’s rich history, and other aspects of it that might belong on the barn.
“How about the old streetcars … they used to run right behind the barn there,” Lacey said.
Kampney said he began work on the barn about two weeks ago, but was about a week behind schedule because he had to strip down and prime the side of the barn.
Still, he was hopeful he would be finished with the barn in the next few weeks.
“I’d better be done before the weather changes,” Kampney said.
One difficulty, he said, has been dealing with the lead-free paint that is now mandated by state law.
The paint, which is water-based instead of oil-based, is runny and the colors don’t always mix as expected, he said. Also, Kampney was unsure how long the paint would last and, unlike lead paint, it can only be used when the weather is above 55 degrees.
“It’s not just me, it’s house painters, sign painters, when you can only paint to 55 degrees, you’re out of work half the year,” he said.
Lacey said he intends to keep the mural for as long as it lasts.
“We’d always wanted to do something with the barn, so I think it's great to do something like this for the whole community,” Lacey said. “We’re already getting great feedback, people keep asking and I tell them to come on down and take a look at the progress.”



A century of support

Dryden Grange marks 100th year as helping hand in community

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — The purpose and pursuits of local Granges have changed over the years, but Roy Benedict and Jerry Sherman, both 86, agree the central focus on friends and family has remained the same.
“Roy and I, we have to fight off all the widows,” Sherman joked as he sat down beside Benedict at Saturday’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Dryden Grange at the Dryden firehouse.
“We’re what’s left over,” Benedict shot back.
About 35 Grange members and community leaders showed up to Saturday’s celebration, at which longtime members recalled good times.
“The Dryden Grange has been blessed to have a number of longtime and what I would call ‘stalwart members,’ that have kept us together over the years,” said current Grange Master Richard Church.
Frances Mary Schutt, a member for 65 years, asked the group to imagine the excitement of the 35 charter members in 1907, a group of farmers who banded together to fight for things such as rural electricity and mail delivery, and to create programs such as farmer co-ops.
“Do you think they thought that someday we’d be celebrating 100 years of Grange in Dryden?” Schutt asked.
Schutt pointed out that in years past, membership in the Dryden Grange had reached between 150 and 200 people, while the current membership is 61.
Still, she said, the group remains strong.
Benedict, a 70-year Grange member who was once master of the Groton Grange, said that Grange groups — the first group nationally began just four years before Dryden’s Grange — had been instrumental in initiating programs such as rural mail delivery.
“I don’t think people know that anymore, but that was the Grange that got that started,” Benedict said. “We used to have programs for the children, to keep them off the God darned streets and out of trouble … we really had some wonderful times, that’s why I always kept my dues up.”
Zachary Widger, 17, and the youngest current member of the Dryden Grange, said that, with a number of family members in the Grange, joining was a given.
“It really is a family thing,” Widger said.
While he said he was a little young to have much involvement with the Grange at this point, Widger said he could see himself becoming more involved down the road.
“It’s a good way to help the community, and the Grange really is about trying to help everything and everyone,” Widger said.