Board OK’s painting blue ox tracks on sidewalks from Bunyan to Babe statues

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RUMFORD — Picture blue hoof prints painted on sidewalks leading from the Paul Bunyan statue at the Information Center up the left side of Congress Street to Babe the Blue Ox beside the Rite-Aid Pharmacy sign.

That and directional signs are what selectmen unanimously approved at Thursday night’s board meeting to hopefully attract tourists into the downtown. They’d also like schoolchildren in an art class to paint the tracks.

Dixfield did the same a few years ago, except their tracks are yellow hoof prints of a moose and lead into the downtown from the town’s lone life-size, chainsaw-carved wooden bull moose in the town common.

Both are attempts to attract thousands of tourists into downtown shopping areas to revitalize business.

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Rumford Economic Development Committee member Jim Rinaldo told the board that Town Manager Carlo Puiia had given him permission to place directional signs at both statues.

Last fall, Rinaldo convinced selectmen to OK spending $6,500 for the nearly 400-pound fiberglass bovine. He’ll erect the signs next week.

Rinaldo said he’s already seen visitors taking pictures beside Bunyan’s bovine buddy. He then suggested that selectmen have blue hoof prints painted on sidewalks connecting the two statues.

“As long as we fix the sidewalks,” Selectman Mark Belanger said, alluding to earlier comments by Selectman Frank DiConzo to repair the sidewalks and replace bricks in walkways with cement to enable safer travel for people in wheelchairs.

“This is a big deal,” Selectman Chairman Brad Adley said of the tracks idea.

Selectman Greg Buccina suggested that high school art class students could design the track stencil.

“I think we have some really artistic kids in high school in art class and if we ask, I bet you they could come up with some pretty neat stuff,” Buccina said.

Selectman Mark Belanger then motioned to start the process “and finish what we started” of getting tracks painted between the two statues.

“Like it or not, we’re committed,” Adley said, after which, Buccina quipped that tracks or ox droppings could be painted. After the laughter subsided, selectmen OK’d having ox hoof prints — not ox droppings — painted on sidewalks between Bunyan and Babe.

In other business:

• Belanger asked Puiia to have the town crew install signs at J. Eugene Boivin Park telling people not to feed any animals there, specifically grain-fed geese who are defecating all over the place.

• Selectmen approved a municipal lighting project low bid by Wescott Electric of Hartford to replace about 100 lights with energy efficient lighting.

• The board also went into an emergency session for an item not on the agenda and authorized fire Chief Robert Chase to spend $9,950 from his budget to rebuild the pump in Engine No. 4 rather than render the firetruck inoperable.

• Selectmen agreed to consider adding language to the June town meeting warrant to extend Lincoln Avenue from Maple Street to Spruce Street, per citizen request.

• They also agreed to allow a flea market to be held in Strathglass Park.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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