Amerson sculpture scheduled for unveiling Tuesday

jgaines@macon.comApril 7, 2014 

The sculpture to be unveiled Tuesday of the late Frank C. Amerson Jr., former chairman of the Macon Water Authority, will look out on his accomplishments from in front of the water treatment plant that bears his name.

The artist, Julie McCraney-Brogdon of Snellville, worked for much of the past year on two bronze likenesses: a bust, emplaced in November at the authority’s Second Street office; and the full-length representation to be dedicated in a 5:30 p.m. ceremony at Amerson Water Treatment Plant, 703 Riverbend Drive.

“It’s slightly over life-size, but very slightly,” McCraney-Brogdon said of the larger sculpture.

Both were commissioned in early 2013 for $106,600, paid out of the water authority’s budget over two fiscal years, MWA Executive Director Tony Rojas said.

“Certainly it’s not a common thing for a public organization, but I would suggest it’s not common for someone to serve 35 years as your chairman and provide the leadership and vision that Mr. Amerson did,” Rojas said.

Amerson understood that good water and sewer service are essential to local prosperity and quality of life, Rojas said. Amerson devoted much of his life to that goal, and the sculptures will ensure that Amerson’s presence will remain at the water authority, Rojas said.

Amerson joined the authority’s board in 1976, became its chairman in 1982 and continued in that office until his death at age 83 in September 2012. During that time, water and sewer service expanded throughout Bibb County, and the authority added services to Byron as well as Jones and Monroe counties. Amerson left the utility with greatly expanded capacity and solid finances.

Kirby Godsey, now the water authority’s chairman, said he never served on the board with Amerson but knew him as a good friend for 20 years.

“I’m personally delighted that the members of the water authority wanted to have this statue sculpted of Frank,” Godsey said. “I think he’s been such a significant leader in our community, and he almost single-handedly transformed the water reserves of Macon. ... Macon has arguably the best water resources in the state of Georgia, and I think that’s in large part thanks to the bold leadership of Frank Amerson.”

Amerson already had led the effort to build a new reservoir, now known as Javors Lucas Lake, when the 1994 flood devastated the existing water treatment plant.

That made the Macon Water Authority eligible for disaster assistance, and Amerson worked to get state and federal funds to build a new water treatment plant. In the end, local sources only had to provide about 5 percent of the $116 million cost.

Ed DeFore, who has served on the water board since 1994, said Amerson did so much that the board felt something should be done to mark his achievements.

“Frank was one of the best businessmen to ever come out of Macon,” DeFore said. “A lot of people like to hunt and fish. Frank liked to work.”

Amerson could be tough, but he got things done. In 2009, the American Water Works Association declared Macon’s tap water the “Best of the Best” in an annual taste test, DeFore said.

Rojas said artist McCraney-Brogdon was picked for the Amerson sculpture based on several other sculptures she has on display in Macon, including those of Charles Douglass, Emery Green and Peyton Anderson.

McCraney-Brogdon, who received a bachelor’s degree in art from Mercer University in 1979, said she never met Amerson but had a “delightful experience” working with his family and former board colleagues.

The sculptures are based on photographs, she said.

“In working with the family and the board, I tried to get a sense of the man,” McCraney-Brogdon said. The works were cast by Inferno Art Foundry in Union City.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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