Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

A group of Tuolumne County residents is hoping to launch a community art project this year to commemorate a Sonora Farmer's Market merchant killed in a car accident.

The group plans to assemble professional artists and local residents to paint an 8-by-24-foot mural on the south wall of the Land & Structures building at 105 S. Stewart St.

The proposed mural, designed by Sonora artist Judy Grossman, portrays the market and Eleazar Rodriguez, popularly known as "Ed the Flower Guy."

Project co-chairs Sarah Rogers Nesper and Laurie Lehmann applied for a designreview permit, which is required for the "Mural in a Day Sonora" project to move forward.

The Sonora Planning Commission will hold a public hearing April 8 to decide whether to approve the permit.

The project won't go before the Sonora City Council unless the applicants wish to appeal the Planning Commission's decision, Community Development Director Rachelle Kellogg said.

Organizers are rallying the community to "pack the house" at the 5:30 p.m. Planning Commission meeting.

"We're going to need a lot of community support to make this whole thing happen," Rogers Nesper said.

At 5 p.m., the mural committee will hold its own meeting at the parking lot at Theall and Stewart streets. The committee will present the proposed mural design, hold a moment of silence for Rodriguez and lead participants from the farmer's market site to City Hall. Attendees can bring flowers for Rodriguez's memorial bouquet.

"I think he would be extremely humbled by (the project)," Farmer's Market Supervisor Erin O'Hare said.

O'Hare, who has overseen the market for four years, is looking forward to decorating the white brick wall of the building where Rodriguez sold his flowers every Saturday. Building owner Zac Garman agreed.

"I've always envisioned a mural being put on that wall because it's such a big, blank space," Garman said. "I'm excited to be part of it."

The mural will be painted on six 4-by-8-foot aluminum composite panels, which Garman, an engineer, will install.

Rogers Nesper said, in addition to honoring Rodriguez, the group hopes the mural will emphasize the market's vitality.

"I'm all for it," O'Hare said. "I think it would be an amazing tribute to Ed, because he was a really wonderful person, and he will be missed terribly in our market."

Rodriguez, 49, of Galt, was killed in a crash in San Andreas on Sept. 29. He was driving home from the market.

Penny Miles, 52, of Murphys, crossed the double-yellow lines on Highway 49 and her car collided head-on with Rodriguez's pickup truck. She also died in the wreck.

Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio said Miles was under the influence of Vicodin, Xanax, methadone and trazodone.

Rodriguez's daughter, Stacey Ochoa, then 10, sustained multiple broken bones, including a broken pelvis.

The Farmer's Market opens May 18.

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