The Helena City Commission voted unanimously to accept the donation of the Equity Fountain, a project spearheaded by Helena resident Ron Waterman to replace the old Hill Park Confederate Fountain, which was removed in 2017.
The design was chosen by Helena residents who voted at the Holter Art Museum in September 2018 for their favorite concept. California landscape architect James Dinh won with the “Sphere of Interconnectedness,” which features a millstone topped by a sphere of stainless steel strips. Words adorn the edge of the millstone, some of which, according to interim city manager Dennis Taylor, will be scripted in foreign and Native languages.
Dinh has won multiple awards for past works and has installations all over the United States. The artist plans to visit Helena in the next few months to survey the site before its intended July installation date.
“I hope this community fountain will … share in the same values of equity and equality, diversity, respect, generosity and compassion, tolerance, service, peace and justice,” Waterman said.
The project’s goal is to raise $110,000 through private investors, with $70,000 of that amount already committed, according to Waterman. He hopes whatever excess funds might be raised would be used by the city to help safeguard the new Helena fountain.
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“We look at this as a gift to the city,” Waterman said. “Sculpture and art commemorates events in the past, but we see this as something expressing where we are today.
"We're anxious to start," he said. "This is something the city of Helena will be very proud of."
In other news:
- The city commission confirmed assistant fire chief Mike Chambers to a permanent position with the Helena Fire Department as he completed his one-year probationary period. Chambers is a Helena native who previously fought fires in Livingston.
- The Helena Police Department brought three police officers who completed their one-year probationary period onto the force: Officers Monica Kuehn, Steven Kornish and John Pulscifer.
- The commission approved more than $500,000 to install 300 new smart meters and 60 electronic parking kiosks to replace the old meters around downtown. The money will come from the state of Montana’s Board of Investments in the form of a loan. Dave Hewitt, the director of the Helena Parking Commission, said the installation of new meters would create more turnover downtown and allow credit and debit cards along with cellphones to be used as modes of payment.