In this July 17, 1980, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan stands before a cheering Republican National Convention in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.
It may have only 16,000 residents, but tiny Dixon, Ill., is about to get its third statue of former President Ronald Reagan.
The community already boasts a statue of Reagan outside his boyhood home, and a second one, depicting the former president on horseback in a riverfront park. Now, the Dixon is kicking off a drive to erect a third statue of their favorite son, this one dressed in lifeguard attire to be placed in a city park.
Dixon made news in 2012 when it was revealed that their longtime comptroller, Rita Crundwell, had systematically been looting city coffers of an estimated $53 million. Now Crundwell is in prison, and Dixon has recovered most of the money she stole. A sale of Crundwell’s assets brought over $9 million, and a lawsuit against the community’s former auditors brought in nearly $30 million more (actually, the city recovered close to $50 million, but attorney’s fees accounted for about $10 million in expenses).
But city officials stress those funds are going to pay for long neglected city projects and to retire significant debt incurred when Crundwell was stealing city funds. The Reagan statue is to be erected with private money.
The statue is to be placed in Lowell park where the former president worked as a lifeguard, and Dixon lore credits him with 77 "saves" over 7 summers. On hand for Thursday’s kickoff will be the son and grandson of one of the swimmers Reagan rescued.
"According to a news article at the time," says a statement from the City of Dixon, "Reagan took on so much water in the process, he was taken to the Dixon Hospital for treatment."
Sculptors Omri Amrany and Gilbert Tillery have been commissioned for the project. The artists are perhaps best known for the statue of Michael Jordan outside the United Center, and a giant statue of Vince Lombardi outside Lambeau Field.
The cost is estimated at $200,000.