Pikeville is gearing up for a public unveiling of a statue of its most famous resident, former Gov. Paul Patton.
Minta Trimble, director of the Pikeville Main Street Program, said Friday that the unveiling of a 9-foot, bronze statue of Patton on a base will be unveiled at a July 26 ceremony.
“We are excited to honor this man who has done so much for Pikeville and the state,” she said.
Patton, a Democrat who was governor from 1995 to 2003, said he was “pleased and honored” by the move.
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“I think I have been cautious about getting my name stuck on things but this makes me very appreciative,” he said.
On the day of the unveiling, a free reception will begin at 1 p.m. in the lower level of the Pikeville city parking garage. A program featuring various speakers, including Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset, will begin at 2 p.m.
The statue will be located across the street on Hambley Boulevard in front of the 99 iconic steps symbolizing opportunity that lead up to the University of Pikeville, where Patton was president from 2010 to 2013. It will depict him in an academic robe. Patton also has served as chairman of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.
Trimble said the idea for the statue was initiated by several Pike County citizens, including businessman Greg May.
It cost about $70,000, she said, adding that no tax dollars were involved. The Pikeville Main Street Program is a non-profit that tries to revitalize and manage downtown Pikeville and neighborhood commercial districts.
May, who helped raise private contributions for the statue, said it will recognize Patton for his work as county-judge executive, governor and lieutenant governor.
“He is worthy,” May said.
Patton, 79, was the first governor eligible to succeed himself in office since James Garrard in 1800 because of a 1992 amendment to the Kentucky Constitution. Before becoming governor, he was lieutenant governor and state economic development secretary under Gov. Brereton Jones.
As governor, Patton’s accomplishments included overhauling higher education and the workers’ compensation system, initiating the “Bucks for Brains” program to attract experts to universities, enhancing adult-education programs and starting lottery-funded scholarships.
Patton was elected judge-executive of Pike County in 1981. He brought to the state’s largest county mandatory garbage collection, an oil recycling program and a work program for welfare mothers in day care centers. He also oversaw construction of a new jail and a $5 million renovation to the county courthouse.