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Student mural helps celebrate Vernon’s history

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JENNINGS County’s small town of Vernon, founded in 1815 by John Vawter, has a rich history. To celebrate Vernon’s 200th anniversary next year, local students in the National Art Honor Society were asked to paint a mural to prepare for the bicentennial celebration.

At 10 a.m. Aug. 23, in the 92-degree weather, the Jennings County High School students began their mural. They finished it on Wednesday.

The mural, painted on the building known as the old swing factory, located on State Road 3/7 South just before entering the town, spells out “Town of VERNON Indiana, since 1815.”

“When I drove by, it was screaming, ‘Paint me a mural!’” Vernon Mayor Dan Wright said.

Wright said that he had been discussing this project for three years and finally got the task completed with the permission of CEW Enterprises, which owns the building. A mural seemed better than other options, he added.

“I like to add unification to the community and promote the arts,” Wright said.

He was happy to assist painting the mural as well, showing off his artistic abilities.

Vicky Suding and Kyle Hunteman, both former students of Jennings County High School art teacher Karen Chilman and Arts Honor Society members from their years in high school, came to lend a hand in getting the massive piece completed. Suding attends the University of Minnesota, and Hunteman is an arts teacher at Batesville High School.

The letters of Vernon, included in the mural, are artworks individually. Each one is filled in with a historical memory of Vernon’s past.

Chilman described what each letter would hold inside. The “V” represents the first culvert from 1887; “E” depicts the commons that became the first playground area; “R” shows the history of the Underground Railroad, which Vernon used frequently to provide temporary housing; “N” includes the Muscatatuck River; “O” has the image of the county courthouse; and “N” shows the event of Morgan’s Raid.

Seniors Kate Eastman and Lane Sawyer painted the last “N” in Vernon. Eastman said they had help from Terry Fugason, a Civil War re-enactor with the Vernon Greys.

“Ours is covering the event of Morgan’s Raid. Terry Furgason helped me with getting more information about things, such as what was worn, to get a better image,” Eastman said.

Trinaty Hobson is a senior at Jennings County High School.

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