A new chapter for downtown’s bronze statue

Book returned to ‘reading girl’ after it was stolen more than a decade ago

Grandfather and granddaughter, Randy Curtis and Olivia Brotherton, help remove the plastic from the newly refurbished reading girl statue. They spearheaded efforts to replace the statue’s book, which was stolen more than a decade ago. City officials, local leaders and citizens attended the unveiling ceremony on Saturday. Buy this photo

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Camas resident Randy Curtis and his granddaughter Olivia Brotherton, 9, talk about the circumstances that inspired their efforts to replace a book that had been stolen from a statue in downtown Camas more than a decade ago.

Recent efforts to replace a bronze statue’s stolen book were inspired by a Camas fifth-grader who was concerned that the little girl looked lonely. In turn, the bronze statue inspired the 9-year-old’s imagination and creativity as the subject of her very own short story, featuring dragons, thieves, beasts and magic spells.

Olivia Brotherton, a student at Grass Valley Elementary School, was on hand Saturday afternoon to unveil the newly refurbished “reading girl” bronze statue. The statue of a little girl reading a book sits on one of the benches that surround the fountain located at Northeast Fourth Avenue and Cedar Street in downtown Camas.

The event, attended by a crowd that included Mayor Scott Higgins, members of the Camas City Council, Downtown Camas Association Executive Director Carrie Schulstad, and local citizens, was part of Spring Into History” month, organized by the DCA.

More than a decade ago, shortly after it was installed, the book was stolen from the statue and never replaced.

Brotherton and her grandfather, Camas resident Randy Curtis, walked by the statue one day about a month ago after having dinner with family. They wondered about its backstory.

Inspired by his granddaughter’s inquisitive nature and love of reading and writing, Curtis set out to work with the city to get the book replaced. He created a model for the book out of a Trex composite deck board. After showing it to some folks from the Downtown Camas Association and the Chamber of Commerce, he realized he found the solution.

The statue was originally purchased by an organization that was then known as the Camas Downtown Association, through a $1,000 grant from the United Camas Association of Neighborhoods. Uta Zuendel, a longtime Camas resident and downtown revitalization supporter, bought it from a nursery in Woodburn, Ore., as a pilot project for public art in Camas. Zuendel was on hand Saturday to see the second unveiling.