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‘Self-Made Man’ statue to be reinstalled

Published: Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 6:34 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – The “Self-Made Man” statue that was damaged last year could be reinstalled on North River Street by spring.

Last week, the Batavia City Council approved a staff recommendation that the statue base be clad in the same granite that was used for North River Street. The city will get bids for the project, City Engineer Noel Basquin said.

Basquin had pushed for the base to be clad in granite. The statue’s sculptor also said using granite would enhance the piece and make it seem like it was more part of the street and permanent.

“As the ‘Self-Made Man’ statue is a prominent feature on River Street, the base needs to complement the statue,” Basquin said in a memo to aldermen. He said the statue could be reinstalled in spring before the grand opening celebration of the streetscape improvements along North River Street.

Sometime before 8:24 a.m. April 24, the “Self-Made Man” bronze sculpture was knocked off its pedestal at River and State streets in downtown Batavia. The 750-pound sculpture, which depicts a man carving himself out of stone, was donated to the city in 1996.

The three men charged in the vandalism of the city-owned statue in November 2011 – brothers Theodore R. Bittner and Thomas E. Bittner, both of Batavia, and Steve L. Piron of Sandwich – pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct for damaging the statue, but their attorney said it was an accident.

“They did not knock it over intentionally,” said their attorney, Cathy Cavins, at the time. “They were climbing it to take a photo. People have been climbing the statue for years. I think the foundation was improperly installed or it deteriorated. Their weight should not have been sufficient to knock it over.”

The three agreed to pay the city $4,900 for repair costs, along with $3,500 in police investigative costs and court costs.

Cavins said her clients had offered to pay for repairs after the incident.

“They want to see the statue back up so people can enjoy it,” Cavins said.

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