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Photo by Ryan Lewis

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — A unique brand of art may soon be displayed around South Pittsburg Elementary School.

During the citizens' comments portion of the South Pittsburg City Commission's August meeting, Beth Duggar, president of the town's National Cornbread Festival, requested permission to do an art project on the streets near the school.

"It's called street crossing art," she said.

Duggar said artist Margaret Tucker, owner of a local art studio called The Creative Zone, is willing to do the work, and the project would involve painting the crosswalks on Third Street, Fourth Street and Holly Avenue.

"She's a great artist," Duggar said. "She's willing to paint this without any costs. We wanted to kind of make it whimsical since it's for the elementary school [children]."

The idea of crosswalk art has spread to other towns like South Pittsburg, she said, and there are already some proposed ideas for the drawings.

"We've got a treasure [in Tucker] in that she's so talented, and she's willing to do this," Duggar told the board.

Some of Tucker's art students would help with the project as well as other volunteers.

"I love the idea," Acting Mayor Samantha Rector said. "I'd personally like to see it done."

Vice Mayor Ronnie Lancaster asked if there would be any legal issue with painting the city streets.

City Attorney Billy Gouger said he "hated to be a spoil sport," but if the board wanted to approve the proposal, it would need to be subject to clearance of any legal issues.

"You are talking about a crosswalk across the street as opposed to a parking area," he said. "I just don't want to get into a situation where you're inviting children out into the streets and somebody gets hurt and there's an issue."

Since the idea has been done in other towns, Gouger said there's probably no legal issues, but he'd have to check into it to make sure.

The board voted unanimously to approve the idea as long as no legal issues arose.

Duggar said donations would cover the costs of the paint and supplies.

City Administrator Gene Vess asked who would maintain the paintings.

Tucker and other volunteers would maintain the work over time, Duggar said.

"I'll just tell you painting streets, from what limited knowledge I have, they won't last very long," Vess said.

"We're prepared to go and repaint them as needed," Duggar said. "It's a way to bring art to South Pittsburg. It's a way to bring beauty, and it's sort of a quicker fix than talking to somebody who owns a building and putting a mural up — but we'd still like to see that happen, too."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at