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Slaymans: Library can keep print

April 22, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Elissa Slayman said Thursday that she and her husband, former Mayor John W. Slayman, have given up their request to take an art print from the town's library.

Elissa Slayman said she offered to donate the print to the library when she talked to library board President C. Richard Grimm before Tuesday night's board meeting.

However, Grimm did not alert the board, which then voted unanimously to have the town council research who owns the print.

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During a phone interview Thursday, Grimm at first denied that the Slaymans made an offer about the print before the meeting. However, during a second interview, when pressed about the conversation, Grimm confirmed that Elissa Slayman offered to donate the print.

Grimm said during that second interview that the Slaymans should have made their offer to the board in person, one reason he didn't bring it up. He also said he was worried about John W. Slayman's threat to sue if the library board didn't give him the print.

Asked specifically why he didn't tell the board about the offer, Grimm said, "I didn't think it was the appropriate time for me to do that."

Now that the Slaymans have relinquished their claim to the library print, "I would say it's resolved," Mayor James G. McCleaf II said Thursday night.

The Rev. Greg Martin, a member of the library board, didn't know about the Slaymans' offer until The Herald-Mail told him Thursday night. "Well, that's good news," he said.

"It probably should have been something the board should have known," said Martin, who suggested and worded the library board's resolution. "There must have been a lapse in communication."

The print, a Civil War scene called "Williamsport Crossing," is one of three whose ownership has been questioned in recent days.

Texas artist John Paul Strain, who painted the original, has said he donated two prints to the town in 1993 to be hung in public places. A third print was given to Slayman as mayor, Strain has said.

But the Slaymans have said that Lester Benjamin Green, the co-owner of Benjamin Art Gallery in Hagerstown at the time, promised John W. Slayman that he would get three prints. Green died in 1993.

John W. Slayman has said that Green gave him the three prints as a gift for issuing a press release about the painting and prints.

A plaque on the frame of the library print says, "Presented to The Town of Williamsport, MD by John p. Strain."

A second print was hanging at Williamsport Town Hall until John W. Slayman had it delivered to his house when he left office last month.

A third print, which is not in dispute, has been at the Slaymans' house the whole time.

Discussion of the library print no longer will be on the town council's May 2 work session agenda, McCleaf said.

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