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Bear brouhaha dominates Cairo Town Board meeting

Jun 10, 2021 6:00 am

Andrea Macko is reporting for Porcupine Soup the June 7, meeting of the Cairo Town Board was standing room only and the conversation got a bit heated when the subject turned to the annual Cairo Bears public art project. In recent weeks, the 42 painted fiberglas bears have been the subject of controversy between the Cairo Town Board and the Cairo Development Foundation, the organizer of the project. The sculptures are sponsored by local businesses, organizations, and individuals, and designed by area artists, then displayed at locations town wide. In the fall, they are auctioned off to raise money for the development foundation. In the past, town employees have helped put the bears in place in time for Memorial Day, but this year volunteers did the work. At the town board meeting, CDF co-president Diana Benoit spoke about the “miscommunication.” Benoit said Supervisor John Coyne lied when he stated publicly that she and foundation co-president Sherry B. True asked a town employee directly for help this year rather than going through the town board. “Truth has to matter,” Benoit said. Coyne said that at the time of his statement, it was what he knew to be true. Board member Jason Watts said that after he brought the request for help to the town board he was told the foundation would need to submit a formal request and there would be “stipulations.” He also said he was told that no bears would be allowed on town property — something board member Steve Kralovich denied, which led to a heated exchange. Benoit sent a formal request for assistance via email to the entire town board on May 25. She said the CDF did not know that “calling a town board member would not have been enough.” Ultimately, it was Watts and a small group of volunteers who installed the bears. Coyne said in previous years, the foundation has provided a formal request for assistance to the town board. Read the full story at porcupine soup [dot] com.

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