Couple donates rest of funds needed to build monument

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Lewis and Clark's epic expedition through the American West will have a lasting monument in Jefferson City, after a couple donated the final $66,000 needed to fund the project.

Bryan and Sharon Pope recently gave the money to the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Task Force in Jefferson City as the final installment in the $390,000 needed for bronze figures of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and expedition members George Drouillard; York, Clark's servant; and Seaman, Lewis' dog.

The 5,000-pounds of sculpted bronze will be installed near the Missouri Capitol facing the Missouri River. The monument, which currently is being assembled in Norman, Okla., will be installed when the Katy Trailhead Park is completed.

Pope, a Jefferson City dentist, and his wife had already donated $10,000 to the effort. Last week's larger donation pushes the fund raising effort "over the top," said Jefferson City Parks and Recreation director Bill Lockwood.

"It was a giant sigh of relief," said Lockwood. "I think they made everyone's day, month, year and maybe bicentennial with that kind of contribution."

Bryan Pope said the donations were a way to repay task force members for organizing bicentennial events celebrating the famous 1804-1806 expedition. Celebrations of the trip had gone on throughout the country for three years.

"We did it because it's been a great three years, and frankly, we are going to miss all of those events," Pope said. "But the best part is to get our monument in Jefferson City and have it here always."

Sabra Tull Meyer, a Columbia sculptor who made the statues, will soon return to Oklahoma to finalize detail work on the figures, which will be in storage at the foundry until the park construction is completed.

"This has been a wonderful journey," said Sally Sprague, special projects chairman for the task force. "To finally say we can give this as a gift to Missouri from the task force in 2007 when the park is complete" will be thrilling.

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