Sunday, April 08, 2001

Honor comes with whimsy

Silverton's not solemn in dedicating its depot

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SILVERTON — A police officer and a pig will share the spotlight here today when they become pieces of Silverton history at the rededication of a museum.

        The museum will be named after the late John M. Kuhnell, police chief from 1946-69.

        Also part of the ceremony: the unveiling of the unfinished pigs of last summer's Big Pig Gig.

        The event takes place at the replica train station, Montgomery Road and Parkview Lane.

        Members of a block club believe this association of a pig and a cop is politically correct because it is done while honoring a police chief everybody in Silverton loved.

        “Without Mr. Kuhnell we would not have our train station,” said Jim Replogle, crime prevention officer with the Silverton Police Department.

        The association will rename the museum the John M. Kuhnell Memorial Museum, honoring the former chief for preserving the memory of the old train station by building a replica near the site in 1976.

        The pig has been transformed to look like a train engine by artist Lisa Merida-Paytes, who lives on Alpine Street.

[photo] Artist Lisa Merida-Paytes puts the finishing touches on the pig for the John M. Kuhnell Memorial Museum.
(Dick Swaim photo)
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        The association purchased the unfinished pig at the Artworks auction last November for $1,500. It will sit outside the train station, adding a piece to the museum along with the pictures, artifacts and memorabilia inside.

        The museum contains the Olympic uniform of Reds player Barry Larkin, who grew up in Silverton. It has memorabilia of Roger Staubach, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, who also grew up here.

        Mr. Kuhnell died in January. His uniform and badge are in the museum.

        Mr. Replogle, who heads the block watch association, said Mr. Kuhnell used much of his own money to build the train station, which sits across the street from the original.

        Mrs. Merida-Paytes put the finishing touches to the pig last week. A sculptor, she said she works with the tools of nature, such as water, wind and gravity, to make her creations approach natural expressions.

        The pig, sitting on a rock-strewn concrete base, looks like an engine.

        “It weighs about 800 pounds, with the tracks, rail rods, wheels and a little bell that toots,” Mrs. Merida-Paytes said.

        “The museum has been a source for people in this community for years,” said David Waltz, municipal administrator. “This is an honor well deserved.”

        The ceremony is at 2 p.m. The museum will be open 2-5 p.m. on the second and fourth Sundays of the month.

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