‘This is not a model kit’: 62 ft. Fitzgerald chicken starts to take form

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 12:35 AM EDT
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FITZGERALD, Ga. (WALB) - The Fitzgerald 62 foot tall topiary chicken is taking form but not flight as begins to look more like a bird and less like a chicken coup.

Fitzgerald Mayor Jim Puckett said the wings will be added next. He said construction did slow down over the last year because of the pandemic and that the Tennessee-based artist, Topiary Joe, was recovering from surgery. Puckett said they’re still working on a timeline for completion.

Mayor Jim Pickett told us the wings will be added next.
Mayor Jim Pickett told us the wings will be added next.(source: WALB)

“This is not a model kit that you just snap together. No one’s ever built a 62-foot steel chicken before, so. He’s (Topiary Joe) having to come here, put things together, measure everything, go back to his shop in Tennessee, and start then. And so it’s been a work in progress, but I’ma tell you this is gonna be fantastic when it’s finished,” said Puckett.

Mayor Jim Puckett
Mayor Jim Puckett(source: WALB)

Puckett said people continue to have a lot of interest in the big chicken, even newlyweds wanting to stay a night inside the soon-to-be plant layered bird.

The money to build the chicken comes from SPLOST dollars that could only be used for tourism projects.

That isn’t the only project Mayor Puckett discussed with WALB News 10 Tuesday afternoon.

He is looking to empower local students and problem solve with local ministers.

Puckett is now developing a City of Fitzgerald Youth Empowerment Council.

It will be filled with 12 local high school juniors and seniors who are interested in learning about city government.

He said it will be like a “junior city council,” giving students a voice along with helping them develop and be a part of a city they want to stay and grow in.

“I’m not looking for just your top 10 students for our youth empowerment council, I want that child that has a strong work ethic, that C student who works his or her tail off to get that C, who studies every single night, who has a part-time job, who does those things above and beyond trying to become a better person,” said Puckett.

He said they’re still figuring out student qualifications but they’re hoping to get the application process running at the start of the new school year.

Also right now, Puckett is working on developing a City of Fitzgerald ministerial roundtable.

He said it will start off with 25 to 30 ministers from all walks of life across Ben Hill County.

Puckett said the goal is to communicate, bring issues to the table and problem solve.

“My plan is to bring leaders from all walks of life into a room together to talk about this stuff and to clear it up and make sure that everybody has a voice,” explained Puckett.

The Mayor said they plan to meet every three months and so far, the response from ministers has been good.

He said right now they’re working on invitations and getting the word out.

They’re planning to have their first meeting in June.

Mayor Puckett hopes to have these two programs running long after his term in office.

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