Don Gfell updates Milan Chamber of Commerce about Thomas Edison statue project

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Don Gfell, Milan, OH, Chamber of Commerce past president reports it's been 169 years since Thomas Edison, the great inventor was born in Milan, Ohio, but this small community in northern Ohio near Lake Erie is rallying efforts to get a statue of Thomas Edison to Statuary Hall in Washington DC. The sculptor Alan Cottrill recognized the citizens of Milan for making this quest possible and the goal is in sight.

Don Gfell, as a Past Milan Chamber president and steadfast advocate for the Edison Statuary Hall project updated residents at the Feb. 11 Chamber of Commerce Banquet. On this date in 1847, Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio. Now 169 years later, Milanites continue to spur a grassroots effort that surpasses all comprehension.

“The funding for the bronze statue is nearly complete,” said Gfell. “We are at that stage where we can now apply for matching funds from the The Charles Edison Fund and complete our goal. The Library of Congress has already approved the project for National Statuary Hall. An induction date for the National Statuary Hall Celebration in Washington, DC has yet to be determined by the combined efforts of Ohio Governor John Kasich and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, but we are anxious to learn how soon that will happen.”

Gfell welcomed the sculptor Alan Cottrill, of Zanesville, OH. “Citizens of Milan, thank-you for raising nearly all of the funds for this Statuary Hall project. It’s amazing how such a small community can have such a big impact. It’s has been an absolute joy to work with you and to make this happen,” said Cottrill. Currently the statue resides in the rotunda of the Ohio State Capital and is on public display to all visitors.

In honor of Edison’s birthday, a small collection of historical Edison memorabilia was on display by collector Don Gfell and some items were auctioned off to support the local Edison High School scholarship fund. Grandnephew Robert Wheeler and president of the board of the Edison Birthplace Association was also in attendance to help celebrate this occasion.

Other festivities filling the Milan Town Hall included a performance by the EHS Show Choir performing selections from the musical “Grease.” Local dignitaries read the Ohio Senate proclamations for citizen of the year, business of the year, community organization of the year and youth program of the year.

To learn more about the efforts to get Thomas Edison to Washington go to

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Karen Roberts
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Don Gfell

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