OTTUMWA — Two Ottumwa High School students gave their very first press conference Wednesday morning to share their progress on decorating Ottumwa with large bulldog statues.
Alyssa Cash and Madyson Feather joined Main Street Ottumwa Executive Director Bob Untiedt in telling the history and efforts of the students and community organizations to stir up both school and city spirit.
"The board of directors of Main Street Ottumwa wanted to have a closer relationship with surrounding organizations ... and we decided to approach the (Ottumwa Regional) Legacy Foundation to see if they would be willing to fund a project involving some kind of public art and students," Untiedt said.
A group of Ottumwa High School students calling themselves "The Mob," which stands for "Make Ottumwa Beautiful," looked at several options, such as painting dumpsters, benches or murals. Instead, they settled on having local artists decorate large bulldog statues.
"It was kind of like a snowball effect," Cash said. "Mady came to me and we started bouncing ideas off each others. Then we got more people in the Mob ... and we got really excited about it, and now here it is."
The group has been selling T-shirts, recruiting more students to help and approaching local businesses and organizations to purchase the finished product.
"Alyssa, Bob and I walked around the downtown area and approached different businesses to see if they were interested," Feather explained. "Those who decided to buy were the high school — the softball field bought one and the high school bought the other two — SEIDA, US Bank, Hotel Ottumwa, Appanoose Rapids and the city of Ottumwa."
Six artists agreed to donate their time and talents to the project: Margit Trautman, Chris Abigt, Fred Zesiger, Jim Walsh, Aaron Much and Brad Covington. The bulldog purchased for the softball field has already been completed and installed.