Morris returned to his rightful place in Tryon overnight Monday, Nov. 19. (photo by Samantha Hurst)

Archived Story

Morris returns – town speaks up

Published 10:25am Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Straight from horse’s mouth

In March of 2011, the Town of Tryon received quotes to restore Morris.
Bids came in from several local and non-local companies ranging in price from $4,000 to $13,000.  At the time the Town did not have the money and could not raise it, so they decided not to restore Morris. The town did not have to get bids for Morris’ restoration because the total cost was under $30,000.

At a council meeting in May 2012, Tryon Town Council authorized the Morris Committee. In June 2012, the committee came to the council with a campaign and restoration plan. The Morris Campaign Committee is working as a branch of the Town of Tryon. They have, at all times, been reporting to the town. They have kept the town up-to-date with photos, receipts and responded to all inquiries.

The people chosen to restore Morris were approved during a council meeting. The two men are local artisans.  One is a firefighter for the Tryon Fire Department and the other’s wife owns a business in Tryon. These men were chosen because of the skills they possess, their ties to our town, and their appreciation of preserving our local heritage. There indeed were other bids for Morris. The one local bid proposed a full metal Morris, which the town declined.

During June and July of 2012, the funds to restore Morris were raised. There has been an audit of these funds and all money is accounted for.  There was an understanding that the restoration of Morris would not begin until the fall, after the funds were raised. The men restoring Morris have received only $4,500 of the $12,000 to begin the restoration. They will receive the other $7,500 when the project is completed.

After taking Morris to an undisclosed (within the limits of the Town of Tryon) location to begin work, it was revealed that he was infested with wasp nests and rotted from the inside-out. His entire head and tail had to be rebuilt. Wanting to save all of Morris that we could, it took a lot of work to restore his body and legs.  Morris was later moved due to vandalism and concerns of inclement weather.

His final return date was never disclosed because it was our wish to return Morris in the dark of night at a secret time in the same way he disappeared.

This brilliantly ran campaign made enough money to restore Morris for the first time since 1983 with monies remaining for future maintenance.  Thank you to all individuals and organizations who donated to Save Morris.  Forwarding moving and proactive actions build community pride.

Caitlin Martin, Tryon Town Manager

  • DoNotGiveInToEvil

    In the future, why not raise money for projects like this via voluntary donations rather than mandatory taxation? Those with pride in this iconic symbol of Tryon could feel good about giving toward art and/or artists they believe in. Those who are struggling to make ends meet or don’t think the price for a new Morris is worth it (for whatever reason) wouldn’t have to contribute.

  • Pat

    Thank you to Johnny and Chip for spending their weekends for the last 3+ months to rebuild Morris and make him beautiful again. Thank you to Patti, Dee, Lisa, Chrys, Betty Purdue and all who contributed for raising $17,000 to pay for the rebuilding of Morris in this bad economy. Thank you to Caitlin Martin for your letter to the TDB finally stating the facts about the process of rebuilding Morris. Everyone in Tryon should be grateful to all of these people for stepping up to the plate and getting the job done.

  • Pat

    oops – 3+ months, not 5+ – still a long time without weekends to rest!

  • Lindastenzel

    Fantastic! How wonderful that Morris was fixed and returned, this was a well written letter, and so accurate. Congratulations to all involved including Patty D’Arbanville, Chip & Dee O’Brien, Lisa Moser and others..How fantastic that they raised money, and got Morris fixed for the Town! I love seeing Morris as a fixture to help spirits, advertise upcoming events, and promote the town for the tens of thousands of outside visitors to the community. Let us Congratulate the helpers to this effort who gave their time and experience to getting a job done that was in dire need of attention, Dear Morris! I’m thrilled! I can’t wait to see him:) Sincerely, a Polk County Resident who is a happy person to shop throughout Tryon. Linda Stenzel

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