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  • Writer's pictureTodd Porter

Have you seen these changes in downtown Canton?

So much is changing so fast in downtown Canton, and let me tell you, it is exciting.

Let's start at Centennial Plaza. Workers continue to put the finish touches on Canton's new park commemorating the birth of the NFL right here 100 years ago, and it seems like they have a great deal of work to finish in the next couple of weeks.

But this just happened last week.

This is the new iconic "Canton" sign. It is shown in the lower right-hand corner as part of the drawing plans and the other three pictures are actualities of what is in place right now. The sign was delivered recently to Canton and placed in Centennial Plaza last week. The "A" in the sign is an image of the McKinley Monument, a tip of the cap to Canton's favorite son, William McKinley, and the "o" is a football, a nod to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

One of the last main pieces of Centennial Plaza to come together will be the iconic large steel beam structures that protrude into the air. There are boxes upon boxes of material waiting to be unpacked inside the plaza.

Come downtown, park your car and rubber-neck your way around Third and Fourth streets. It is impressive and you can see how it will reshape the entertainment business in Stark County once it is complete.

Of course, there are two other items you should be aware of as well.

Artist Dirk Rozich, whose work is featured as part of "The Eleven" in downtown Canton already with the Super Bowl III mural of Joe Namath on the side of the Cultural Center, is working on an eye-popping mural near Julz at 6th and Cleveland Avenue NW.

Rozich is working on top of a crane to get the work done and he can be found outside painting most days. His goal is to have "The Founders" done before Sept. 17, 2020, which is the day of the centennial. The mural will show Jim Thorpe on the left and Ralph Hay on the right. Imagine a Pro Football Hall of Fame Parade next year that heads up Cleveland Avenue and the greats being honored in that parade and steal a glance over to "The Founders."

And then there is work being done on the old McKinley Grand Hotel, as part of Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village. A small crew was working Sunday inside the hotel, but the old restaurant with the oxidized, tinted windows is gone. You can see the marking for a new dining area in the photos below.

So much is happening downtown. This COVID-19 pandemic is temporary, although it feels like forever. There will be a new day around the corner. And Canton is getting ready for it when it dawns.

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