SHERIDAN — Sheridan’s Kendrick Park might be most known for elk and bison when it comes to exotic wildlife, but a pair of endangered lions stole the show at Monday’s City Council meeting.
The two bronze Komainu — Japanese for lion-dog — have guarded the main entrance of Kendrick Park since 1919, according to library records and archives in The Sheridan Enterprise. But, unless the Council takes action in the next couple years, the statutes could become a distant memory, said Kim Love, chair of the Sheridan Public Arts Committee.
Love cited a 2012 report by Patrick Kipper, an art conservator based out of Loveland, Colorado. Kipper recommended moving the statues indoors to protect the lions from the northern Wyoming winters.
“This will keep the delicate cloisonné from deteriorating further plus keep stress lines from cracking further due to harsh ice expanding and contracting in the cold of winter months,” Kipper wrote.
He also said the 92-year-old cloisonné, or colored enamel ornaments, would be further damaged in winter by the expanding and contracting of the brass channels that are soldered to the bronze surfaces of the cast lions.
According to a follow-up email Kipper sent, which Love read a section of Monday, the lions could lose all artistic and monetary value if preservation efforts do not begin soon.
Kipper’s 2012 report states the Komainu appeared at the entrance of the Japanese pavilion at the 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco, California.
Sheridan resident Peter Neiter told The Sheridan Enterprise he purchased the lion-dogs for $10,000, a substantial sum in the early 20th century.
“I wish the good people of the city of Sheridan would realize that these fragile lions were designed as props for a short-time fair in a mild climate,” Kipper wrote.
In other business:
• The Council approved funding requests from two organizations. Volunteers of America will receive $15,000 in support of the Sheridan Community Shelter. The money will cover the lease costs of $10,000 and resident program transportation costs of $5,000. VOA offers numerous services to youth, veterans and those battling substance abuse, among other programs.
The Sheridan Public Arts Committee asked for $10,000 to fund administrative help. The organization encourages and enhances artistic expression and appreciation in the community through acquiring, exhibiting and maintaining public art.
While Mayor John Heath and councilors often point out community partnerships like these make Sheridan a good place to live, Councilor Thayer Shafer addressed finances at the end of the meeting. Due to declines in the energy sector, the state of Wyoming is expected to approve a smaller budget in coming fiscal years, a move that should trickle down to local governments.
“The city of Sheridan’s in pretty good financial condition,” Shafer said. “The thing is, with the state budget being what it is and so forth, we don’t know how long this lollipop’s going to last. So we’re going to try to stretch it out as much as we can in the interim.”
• Councilors approved a change of speed limit in the Osprey Hill Subdivision — including Bluebird Lane, Osprey Boulevard and Kingfisher Avenue — to lower the speed limit to 20 mph. Residents petitioned for the decline due to the number of children in the area. The speed limit was previously 30 mph.
• Sheridan Travel and Tourism Executive Director Shawn Parker updated the Council on the performance of air service out of the Sheridan County Airport.
Parker said, of the 44 flights that have come and gone since air service started on Nov. 19, 43 have been on time. The only late arrival came in five minutes behind schedule due to de-icing.
The Sheridan and Johnson counties Commercial Air Service Team has also seen an uptick in ticket sales.
“We’re selling 48 tickets a day on average right now, which is pretty spectacular,” Parker said.
In only the third week of the program, CAST is pretty excited by the progress in ticket sales and hopes to see continued improvement.