NEW CUMBERLAND - Newell Memorial Field hasn't even changed hands, and already it's taking its place in local lore.
Some Hancock County residents with a special cause want to make sure the historic football stadium doesn't pass from memory too quickly. So they contacted Cat's Meow, the "sill sitter" company in Wooster, Ohio, and developed an illustrated wooden replica of Newell Memorial Stadium.
One hundred of the pieces were made, and they're selling quickly, said Melissa Reed, of New Manchester, who sits on the fundraising committee of the West Virginia-Northern Autism Community Chapter of the Autism Society.
The chapter serves as a support group for parents of children with autism and other disabilities.
Reed said she and chapter treasurer Chris Fair came up with the idea while discussing fundraising opportunities.
"I said, 'Let's do some sill sitters of the (Weirton elementary) schools that are closing,' and Chris said, 'Maybe we should do one of the Field'"
Before they contacted Cat's Meow, they contacted Hancock County Schools.
"We wanted to make sure they were fine with it, so Chris approached (Superintendent) Sue Smith and got permission to do that," Reed said.
Fair, of Weirton, said the chapter has worked closely with the school system since the chapter's founding in 1999. What's more, Cat's Meow has worked with the Autism Society in the past, she said.
"I'm a Cat's Meow collector, so I called the company, and ... they were very receptive to non-profits working with them," Fair said.
The sill sitter depicts Newell Memorial Field in color and features prominently the World War I and II memorial that serves as an entrance to the stadium. On the back is a brief history of the stadium, which opened in 1950 and hosted its last Oak Glen Golden Bears home football game on Oct. 14, 2011.
The stadium is being sold as surplus property by the Hancock County Board of Education to the Hancock County Commission for $400,000.
Replicas can be purchased for $15 at the following locations: Citizens Drug Store in Chester, Salon da Vinci in Chester, New Cumberland RX Center and Swaney Memorial Library in New Cumberland. More will be ordered if they sell out.
Reed said a replica is being developed of the old Jimmy Carey Stadium in Weirton, which also is being sold by the school board.
In a similar initiative, New Cumberland Community Projects has just released its sixth historic sill sitter, featuring the J. Robert Haworth mural at Swaney Memorial Library.
The mural replica is the sixth in a series of sill sitters depicting historic sites in and around New Cumberland: the Pride Park clock, the Hancock County Courthouse Civil War statue, the Hines Park gazebo, Gravel Hill Academy and old U.S. Lock 9.
The sill sitters, at $12 each, are available for sale at the New Cumberland Candle Company, and proceeds benefit New Cumberland Community Projects.
George Hines, community service director for New Cumberland, said the Haworth mural depicts the town as it looked in 1954 and includes pieces of local history. Haworth was an art teacher at Weir High School.
"When you're growing up in New Cumberland, you always went to the library back in the day, and you'd just sit there and stare at that picture," Hines said.
The wooden collection was developed by Sea Pines Art in Madison, Ohio.
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