WILLISTON, N.D. - Exciting things are happening at Williston State College, both inside and out. A campus beautification project, which will be completed in several stages, is currently under way. The first stage of the project is currently under construction in front of Stevens Hall.
According to Vice President of Business Services Justin Maddison, by next spring there will be benches, a larger than life size statue of the Lakota Hunkpapa Chief Sitting Bull created by Michael Westergard, an artist from Plentywood, Mont., and heated concrete sidewalks from the archways to the parking lot. "It will feature outdoor seating for people to use during nice weather," Maddison said. "They'll be able to sit and enjoy the statue as well as the general landscaping and large planters which will be in place."
He said that the statue pedestal, sidewalk and the planters are projected to be in place sometime around the first of the new year, with the statue arriving in the spring or early summer. Landscaping will be completed in the spring as well.
The campus beautification project was the offshoot of a master planning process, according to WSC President Dr. Raymond Nadolny. "When we went through master planning process, the number one complaint from students is that we look like a Walmart parking lot. So we knew that we needed to respond to that by creating an environment like we see at other campuses across the state."
WSC Assistant Professor of History Richard Stenberg, a member of the art committee which is part of the campus beautification project, said that in the beginning of 2009, he mentioned to Nadolny that there had been a project at Fort Buford State Historic Site to get a bronze statue of Sitting Bull on site to commemorate his surrender to U.S. agents on July 19, 1881.
Stenberg explained that in the mid-1990s Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site former superintendent Paul Hedren had written an article about the surrender of Sitting Bull at Fort Buford and that he found that the building where the surrender ceremony took place was still standing, the current Officers Quarters at the fort. The Friends of Fort Union did much legwork to get a large bronze done of the chief, but the project fell by the wayside for numerous reasons.
"In the fall of 2009, I brought the Friends of Fort Union and Williston State College together and forged an agreement, with the Friends handing the project off to the college," Stenberg said. "We are in essence recycling work already done and taking it in a new direction."
This is the first of three projects in the works, according to Nadolny.
"We selected this project because of our partnership with Fort Union, which had already done a considerable amount of planning in regard to this art piece," Nadolny said. "The second project, which is the primary monument, is a likeness of a pioneer, which will go up in 2012. The last project is in relation to our science building and will be a Lewis & Clark piece. Because the Lewis and Clark Expedition was the United States' first scientific expedition, we wanted a monument to commemorate that experience in our history and in our area. That piece is scheduled to be placed in July of 2013."
According to Maddison,WSC is funding a portion of the project, with additional funding from the WSC Foundation.