Campaign launches to pay off Simone sculpture

Published 11:54 pm Monday, May 27, 2013

$55k still owed

Always Tryon has initiated a campaign to raise money over the summer to finish paying for the Nina Simone sculpture.

The sculptor is still owed $55,000 for the statue, which sits in the Nina Simone plaza in downtown Tryon.

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Always Tryon, a citizen and business group that was formed last summer to initiate economic development downtown, sent out a letter last week detailing the campaign.

“When citizens concerned about Tryon’s future met in July last summer, an issue for many was the remaining payment owed on the Nina Simone statue,” states the letter, signed by Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples, Tryon Downtown Development Association (TDDA) chair Steve Cobb and Always Tryon Steering Committee’s Jim Wright.“After several months of gathering facts and discussing solutions, we agree the debt is a commitment of the community and needs to be paid.”

The letter also states that there is a notebook of all documents located in the town manager’s office at town hall for any interested parties to review.

An escrow account has been set up at Bank of America to hold contributions to the debt. Contributions will be tax deductible if checks are made to TDDA, DBA Nina Simone Escrow Account.

When final payment is made to the sculptor, the committee says it will request the necessary legal documents to transfer ownership of the statue and a complete release from the sculptor. If the project fails, all funds will be returned to contributors.

If there are extra funds collected, the town will use the money for future maintenance of the sculpture.
Always Tryon requested earlier this year that the Town of Tryon take ownership of the sculpture once payment is completed.

The letter said that the town has commitments from several members of the community to kick off the fund drive.

“We believe a successful fund drive will minimize a divisive issue in the community, bring resolution to the ownership of the statue and avoid potential litigation with the sculptor over the debt,” states the letter.

The fund drive will conclude no later than Sept. 1, 2013.