Bel Air High Bobcat sculpture approval due Monday

More than 120 individuals, organizations and businesses have donated in excess of $50,000 to cast a bronze statue of Bel Air High School's mascot, a bobcat, and the Bel Air town government plans to approve a contract for the sculpture Monday evening.

Described as "fierce looking" and "large" by Town Administrator Chris Schlehr, the Bel Air Bobcat in bronze will be posted near the entrance to the school's Bobcat Stadium.

Schlehr gave an update on the project at a work session earlier this week for town staff and the board of commissioners. He said the Bel Air Cultural Arts Commission, which has spearheaded the project and the fund-raising with the support of BAHS alumni, has selected a sculptor and a contract will be submitted to the town board at Monday's regular meeting.

The sculpture will be based on a drawings of the Bel Air Bobcat rendered by local artist Jim Butcher, who was a combat artist in the Marine Corps and who specializes in portraits.

Schlehr declined to identify the sculptor who was chosen, but said the contract is for $34,900. According to the website, just over $50,126 was raised for the sculpture. The commission set a goal of $60,000, but Schlehr said enough has been raised to date to pay for the bronze and the landscaping and lighting. The base holding the bobcat will be built with bricks from the old Bel Air High building that sat where the new football stadium was built.

Town Commissioner Susan Burdette said the Cultural Arts Commission and the alumni "have been working so hard" to raise money for the sculpture.

The sculpture will be dedicated to Al Cesky, the school's legendary late football coach.

Schlehr, a member of Mr. Cesky's last football squad at BAHS, said the Bel Air Bobcat will be about four and a half feet high, which would make it a good deal bigger than a living bobcat.

For comparison, he mentioned a bronze Cougar statute at Fallston High School (where Mr. Cesky son, Dave, is the football coach.)

"That's a little kitty-cat," he said of the Fallston Cougar. "You could pick it up by the tail."

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