Troy keeps its eyes on Christ of the Ohio

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Staff Writer

TROY – At a regular meeting of the Troy Town Council, members of the board set about to address a number of issues facing the community, including the preservation of the Christ of the Ohio statue on Fulton Hill.

The concrete likeness of Jesus of Nazareth has kept a long vigil over commercial and recreational traffic on the river below, but the effects of weathering, erosion and time are taking their toll on the historic landmark.

The story of the statue began during the Second World War, when a priest from St. Meinrad Archabbey contacted a German prisoner of war named Herbert Jogurst, who had a reputation as a sculptor and artist. The priest told him of Dr. Nicholas James of Tell City who had commissioned the construction of a landmark to inspire travelers along the river. Jogurst was eager for the opportunity, both because it offered a reprieve from his work in a Kentucky coalmine and a chance to use his talents to celebrate the faith he believed had delivered him from harm. The project, which would become the Christ of the Ohio, was completed in 1956.

Bret Kleeman of Kleeman Masonry, Inc. of Troy provided a promising report on a fund for the preservation of the iconic statue. With strong support from the community and companies that use the river for transport, Kleeman reports that the fund has currently raised around $13,800 in donations. Town Board President Gary Palmer called the show of support “impressive” adding, “there’s a lot of history up there and we need to preserve it.”

According to the board, a crack was detected in the statue, and its repair and stabilization is currently a top priority of preservation efforts. The board also agreed to further improve the site by upgrading parking and access with concrete pavement.

Board member Terry Weyer said that concrete was a wise choice, because with concrete “you’re done for 20 to 30 years.”

The work will be performed by Kleeman Masonry, which plans to donate their labor to the project and charge the town only for materials.

If support for the Christ of the Ohio remains strong, the town hopes to possibly include safe overlooks, landscaping and other possible improvements.

If these come to fruition, board members believe they would benefit visitors who visit the site to see the statue and share its view of the Ohio River.

This showing of support by the town of Troy and riverboat companies seems to demonstrate an obligation to look out for the silent sentinel, just as it has done for Ohio River travelers over the decades, supporters of the project said.

In other business, Utilities Superintendent Bernard Linne reported the software and equipment used to calculate utility bills for the town are outdated and in need of an upgrade.

The board agreed to contract with Itron, Inc., a global technology company headquartered in Liberty Lake, Wash., that specializes in utilities software. The cost for the upgrade will be $8,030, with an annual maintenance fee of $475 that the town will use on a trial basis for a year.

Perry County Humane Society President James Carter discussed the need for an animal-control officer to coordinate efforts in the area. According to Carter, the lack of a trained officer has resulted in a state of “chaos” where residents don’t know where to direct their calls and burdens law enforcement with extra tasks they have neither the certifications nor time to fulfill. The board agreed to send a letter in support of Carter’s plea.

Palmer commended the citizens and public workers of Troy who repaired the damages incurred during a June 27 tornado. The EF-1 tornado began its path in Troy before moving to neighboring Tell City. Despite the damage, Palmer pointed out a degree of normalcy was achieved quickly through the town’s mutual efforts, saying, “It was nice to have the town come together.”