By SHERRI L. SHAULIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- Artist Rick Muccio knew he should be worried about vandals, but he never gave a thought to bad weather.
"Penguins can swim, so I figured he would be fine in the rain," Muccio said. "It was just the wind he couldn't handle."
High winds from weekend storms took their toll on "Executive State," a 7-foot tall fiberglass emperor penguin stationed in downtown Niles.
Muccio, of Howland, is the artist responsible for "Executive State," created for Youngstown State University's Penguin Parade. After an official unveiling last month, Muccio's creation -- which features caricatures of the men from Ohio who served as president of the United States -- found a home in front of the McKinley Memorial Library on North Main Street in Niles.
The artist said he received a call from Niles police, who found the statue blown off its base and rolling around on the marble walkway leading up to the library. On Monday, only the painted base bearing the presidents' names and an American flag was left in front of the building.
"He just took off and tried to fly," Muccio said of the penguin.
Though the entire statue weighs about 300 pounds, Muccio said, most of the weight is in the base. The penguin itself is hollow.
Initially, Muccio said, he believed the damage to be worse than it actually was.
"They said he was 'broken,' " he said. "He has holes in his wing and nose, and he's chipped and cracked in places, but nothing actually broke off like I first thought."
Muccio said he first planned to take the penguin to an auto-body repair shop, but was referred to another penguin artist instead.
"I contacted Catherine Cala, [associate director from the Youngstown State University development office], and she suggested a guy who does a lot of artwork with fiberglass," he said.
The penguin will need to have the holes fixed and be sanded down before Muccio can repaint the damaged spots. Holes in the statue's base will also need to be repaired, and the bolts to attach the penguin will need to be replaced.
A new layer of clear coat will be applied before the penguin is returned to its rightful place within the next few weeks.