Somerset-Pulaski County is extending the welcome mat to visitors — and those returning home — to enjoy their stay in Lake Cumberland.

A large, colorful photograph of the lake in the fall greets motorists traveling west on East Ky. 80 as they come into the city.

The 8-by-20-foot welcome sign has been there for some time, but recently got an image change. The makeover was unveiled Wednesday.

Local artist Jerry Dixon came up with the concept and “the Welcome Home” logo. Looking at the completed work, he said, the image is warm and inviting.

The photograph reflects the beauty of the lake with a splash of fall colors. Dixon said the design is simple, clean and captures the spirit of the area.

“The lake is so much a part of our area,” he said. “(The image) is inviting to everyone: Those who have moved away and came back and those new to the area.”

The fall foliage is prominent, but Dixon said there is enough greenery in the photograph not to date the scene to one season.

Dixon arrived at the concept within minutes after he picked up his sketch pad. He usually goes with the first idea. “You pick up a blank sheet of paper and the concept comes from the movement of the pencil,” he said.

The artist taught in the Pulaski County School District for 29 years and at Somerset Community College for 25 years. He worked as an engineering architectural draftsman for 25 years.

Dennis Crist, the city’s building inspector, said Dixon developed the concept and logo, but the photograph came off the Internet.

“We were trying to find something with the lake when we found this one,” Crist said.

Somerset Mayor JP Wiles said Crist put in several hours putting up the aluminum frame. The sign is designed to withstand the elements and the photograph is fad resistant. Lights will be activated at night.

Crist said the photograph can be taken down and changed, if needed, but the image is expected to retain its quality for some time.

Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation provided a portion of the funds for the project. Estes said his agency gave $1,575.

The welcome sign can be seen off of East Ky. 80, a short distance from the Ky. 914 intersection, on a hill near the entrance to Adopt Me Lane, which goes to the Pulaski County Animal Shelter.

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