Dysart et al is seeking artists to paint two new murals on the A.J. LaRue arena.

Athletes and siblings Taly Williams and Lesley Tashlin will be depicted on the arena’s exterior, alongside five other murals of celebrated Haliburton County sports stars.

The project, estimated to cost $30,000 will be fundraised by public donations. As of July 16, a GoFundMe had raised nearly $6,000 and Dysart et al has collected $1,525. The Rotary Club of Haliburton also donated $2,000 to the project.

After receiving applications from artists, a review committee will select who will complete the project, bringing their decision to the cultural resources committee for a final decision. That committee will approach Dysart council for approval.

“Ideally, we want to have something up before the snow flies,” said Jim Blake, chair of the cultural resources committee. The window to submit applications closes on August 13.

Williams and Tashlin will have input into the murals as well. “We want the mural to be something they are proud of,” Blake said.

Grade 7 and 8 students at J.D. Hodgson Elementary School sparked the effort to honour the athletes. Inspired by William’s football career and Tashlin’s record-setting track and field stint, they said they were disappointed that the legacy of the Black athletes didn’t seem to be recognized in the County.

“I’m hoping that this opens up the conversation and starts allowing others who feel left out and not a part of Haliburton to start connecting to it,” said Williams, who now operates a water infrastructure investment firm in Los Angeles.

“[Haliburton] is our home and we are forever connected to it,” added Williams in an email. “But being recognized with a mural in your hometown is a completely different type and level of connection. It’s no longer just about me being connected to my hometown. It feels like a two-way street now. My hometown is acknowledging and connecting to me.”

Dysart et al’s events and recreation coordinator, Andrea Mueller, was impressed by how quickly the project has progressed.

“I think it’s amazing — they brought this forward in March and it’s July,” Mueller said, mentioning how the students played a key part in the project’s momentum. “Their dedication to it really sparked that desire and that attitude to make it happen quickly.”

Of the five other murals, three were donated privately. Mueller said the municipality is unsure how the first two murals were funded.

For more information or to donate, visit hertrackhisfield.ca or dysart.ca/muralwall The murals of Lesley Tashlin and Taly Williams will be painted on panels and fastened to the side of the A.J. LaRue Arena. If all goes to plan, they could be finished by late fall.

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