By MICAH HENRY
A group of family, friends, and co-workers gathered at the Alexander County Services Center on Thursday, October 26, for the dedication of a large artwork in memory of the late Alexander County Manager, Rick French.
The artwork, which depicts a large butterfly on a 7’ x 10’ panel, was done by artist Carol Mitchell. The piece is the latest in a wall of many barn art squares, which has made Taylorsville’s installation the largest in the state, said Jack Simms, Taylorsville Town Councilman.
He credited Taylorsville resident Reita Bryant with the idea for a having barn art wall here, after she saw one in a nearby county and mentioned it to him. Simms also credited Mitchell for her multiple hours of work on many of the barn art squares.
Late Town Manager David Odom told Simms some squares could be placed on Town Hall. Simms then went to see French, who was then County Manager, about placing squares on the wall of the County Services Center. French agreed, and the project soon began to beautify downtown.
The first four squares were placed on the wall at Town Hall, with the remainder being placed on the east side of the Services Center, which faces Alexander County Courthouse Park.
The butterfly art for French was the idea of Mitchell. It is placed so that children can stand in front of the art and appear as if they have butterfly wings when photographed. Many children play next door at the park playground and splash pad.
Ronnie Reese, Alexander County Commissioner, said that he had spoken often with French in their county roles.
“We talked about family a lot. He was really proud of his family. He wanted to do things that people would see for the county, that would make a difference,” Reese said. “I think this is a good thing; just one of a few things we can do to remember Rick by. I appreciate him and what he’s done for us.”
The meeting was also attended by Shane Fox, current County Manager, and several French family members, including his widow, Kathy, son Parker, daughter-in-law Evie, and their children, Miller, Phoebe, Zinnie, and Baker French.
Parker French said, “Thank you guys. We love Alexander County, we’re excited about Mr. Fox and how the Lord will use him to bless us. Y’all are family. It’s more than just work. We’re thankful to share it with the kids and have something special they can reflect on.”
Simms noted that no County funds were used in the artwork; it was given by private donations.