June 10, 2010

Chamber Unveils Community’s New Welcome to Memphis Sign

Representatives from the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce, Scotland County Rotary Club, City of Memphis and the Scotland County Antique Fair were on hand this week for the unveiling of the new Welcome to Memphis sign. Pictured (L to R) are Bill Kiddoo, Roy Monroe, Fred Clapp, Brent Walker and Leon Buford.

Welcome to Memphis. It’s not just the slogan of the local chamber of commerce - it’s now a 10-foot tall greeting for visitors entering town on highways 136 and 15 thanks in large part to the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce.

The MACC spearheaded the $4,100 project to construct the three-sided sign that now graces the intersection of the two major thoroughfares in Memphis. The Scotland County Rotary Club and the Scotland County Antique Fair Association also made major contributions to the project.

Brent Walker, who shares the chamber presidency with Bill Kiddoo, was responsible for the construction of the new welcome sign.

“This project has been in the works for some time,” Walker said. “Originally, Rotary maintained Welcome to Memphis signs at all four city limits on the two highways. Those had needed to be replaced for sometime, when Chuck Kigar came to a Rotary meeting with the idea for the new signs.”

Kigar, who was MACC president at the time, got the project off the ground. Outgoing Rotary president Dick Bratton led the civic group’s drive to contribute $500 to the project. Those efforts were matched by the Antique Fair group.

“This was a community project,” Walker said. “The memberships of these groups do a lot of work to raise that money, flipping burgers at sales, barbecuing chicken and calling bingo, selling peanuts and so many more fundraisers that make projects like this possible.”

These groups’ efforts will now be greeting guests to town in the form of a 10-foot tall, four-foot wide steel sign. The structure features fire cut metal letters set off by a backdrop of artificial concrete molded to give the appearance of cut stone. The sign is held in place by a special break-away pole that is required by state transportation standards due to the proximity to the two major highways.

“We worked extensively with MoDOT in the design and installation process to insure the sign met all safety requirements,” Walker said. “MoDOT has been very accommodating. In fact they have agreed to move the highway information signs at the north side of the site to provide better visibility of our new sign as folks come south down Highway 15.”

Walker also praised the efforts of the City of Memphis as well as the local Master Gardeners group. City crews assisted with the installation process, which was performed in the former site of the Master Gardeners display.

“Those folks were gracious enough to relocate a tree and some other plantings to allow the sign to be installed in their place,” Walker said. “Then they have promised to come back and provide landscaping for the sign once the lighting is in place.”

Illumination of the sign will be decided by the chamber members at their June meeting this week. Walker said the group is leaning towards solar powered lights that will either be installed on the ground or hung from the top of the sign.

The sign was installed on June 4th. It had been completed earlier this spring but inclement weather had forced cancellation of several previous installation attempts.

The project was constructed at Walker Motors. Materials and services were purchased from a number of local providers.

“This really was a local job, with just one or two items coming from outside of Scotland County,” Walker said.

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