Operation Foresight sculptures unveiled

Carolyn Schmidt Hjelt and her brother, Lynn Schmidt, admire a sculpture of their father, Leland Schmidt, at an unveiling Friday evening in Grand Junction. Schmidt was one of the founders of Operation Foresight, along with Dale Hollingsworth and Joe Lacy.

The faces of Grand Junction’s former Chamber Manager Dale Hollingsworth, City Manager Joe Lacy, and business owner Leland Schmidt jut out of three new sculptures unveiled Friday night on Main Street.

The trio of men were immortalized by sculptor and former Grand Junction resident Ron Chapel for their leadership in Operation Foresight, the project that 50 years ago literally reshaped Main Street. Hollingsworth’s, Lacy’s and Schmidt’s sculpted eyes gaze in different directions at the street’s curving architecture and a fourth statue nearby depicts pictures of Main Street and Operation Foresight pioneers in the past.

“These three men were men who could look in several different directions at once” in life, Chapel said, and he wanted to depict that vision in his art.

Chapel was commissioned to make the sculptures by the Legends Sculpture Project committee, a group of community volunteers who banded together to erect a statue in 2007 of former Grand Junction resident and writer Dalton Trumbo in front of the Avalon Theatre at 645 Main St. Spurred by the success of that project, the group pledged to commission a “5 in 5” series of five statues of other local legends over a span of five years, starting with former Daily Sentinel Publisher Walter Walker in 2008. Statues followed each year of William Moyer, who donated the city’s first public swimming pool; St. Mary’s Hospital Founder Sister Mary Balbina Farrell; and John Otto, who worked to make Colorado National Monument a national landmark.

The series concludes this year with the sculptures of Operation Foresight founders in front of the Springhill Suites at 236 Main St. Harry Weiss, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, said the Legends project will keep the history of leadership in Grand Junction alive.

“They’re a juggernaut for this community in terms of bringing these Legends stories forward,” Weiss said of Legends committee members.


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