WELLSVILLE - Residents and local dignitaries gathered at the Pete Amato Boardwalk next to Yellow Creek in Wellsville Saturday evening for a ceremony dedicating the completion of the floodwall mural.
The eight-year project sought to beautify the formerly bare concrete floodwall that runs along Yellow Creek in the village. Local artist Gina Hampson was honored for creating the floodwall's panels, each depicting scenes from Wellsville's distant and recent past.
Ed Bauer, vice-president of the Wellsville School Board, credited the Wellsville Revitalization Committee for their commitment in ensuring the project's completion. "It's amazing what you can get done," he said. "I'm really proud of it." Bauer also highlighted the floodwall's status as a tourist attraction, especially since being featured in Ohio magazine two years ago. "It's bringing people in," Bauer said.
Wellsville residents strolled along the floodwall studying the scenes depicted on the floodwall mural following a ceremony Saturday evening, which dedicated the completion of the eight-year mural project. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
Attorney Nick Amato was among those presented with a plaque in appreciation for his family's efforts in supporting the project through to its completion. He spoke about his family's sense of stewardship towards Wellsville, which was instilled in him by his father, Chuck Amato, who was present at the ceremony, and his uncle, the late Pete Amato, in whose name the boardwalk is dedicated. He also talked about a sense of privilege in being a resident of Wellsville.
"They all just loved this city and wanted us to pitch in and pay back whatever we could to be allowed to live here," Amato said.
In his comments, county commissioner John Payne mentioned that he had lived in Wellsville after graduating from college, entitling him to a sense of pride in the project. He said that he was amazed by what artist Gina Hampson had been able to achieve and said that, upon meeting her, he felt privileged to hold the hands that had created such an amazing work.
Payne urged people to bring their children and grandchildren to the floodwall when they come to Wellsville and show them the history of the town. "This is a history project out there, do not forget that," he said. He even suggested a docent committee be created to guide visitors as they progress across the floodwall from panel to panel.
Hampson told the crowd that her favorite artist growing up was Norman Rockwell and that she was glad to be able to create similar slice-of-life images of Wellsville from throughout its history.
During a subsequent celebration held at the Sons of Italy Lodge 657 in Wellsville, village Mayor Susan Haugh presented Hampson with an official proclamation of recognition and gratitude. "You have made history with your works of art, which will be preserved for generations to come," she said.