Efforts Continue for Neil Johnston Statue

A campaign to erect a statue in honor of a former Chillicothe High School basketball standout continues to take shape.

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Jhan Corzine, a campaign member, says the statue of 1946 CHS graduate and pro basketball player Neil Johnston will be installed this December.

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"There's a gentleman by the name of Bruce Caplinger, who's a sports memorabilia collector, who had always thought that Neil never got his due," said Corzine. "So he's been the driving force behind this. He contacted Brian Hanlon, who's a well-known sculptor. He does most of the sculptures that are in the Naismith Hall of Fame."

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Johnston is a former Ohio State Buckeye and played professional basketball in the NBA from 1951 to 1959 as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors. Johnston also had a knack for baseball, having signed with the Philadelphia Phillies out of college. Johnston passed away at the age of 49 in 1978. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1990.

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Corzine said even though they still need around $17,000 to pay for the statue, the sculptor has made an extremely gracious gesture.

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"The sculptor, Brian Hanlon, has very graciously agreed to install the sculpture this year, and allow us to continue paying for it," said Corzine. "That will tentatively be December 5th, but it may happen earlier."

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Once it's ready for installation, the statue of Johnston will be located in front of the Ellis B. Hatton Memorial Gymnasium at Chillicothe High School.

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A special event aimed at generating more funds for the statue will take place on Sunday, October 20th at the Chillicothe Antique Emporium, located along Main Street near the Chillicothe downtown area. Twenty percent of the sales from ice cream at the Emporium that day, along with any tips, will be donated the statue fund. It’ll take place from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and will be accompanied by a magic show for the kids, on the sidewalk in front of the store.

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