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Reagan statue unveiling planned in Tampico

Historical Society reaches $50,000 target to pay for work

TAMPICO – After 6 years, a Tampico group has raised enough money to pay for a boyhood statue of Ronald Reagan.

The Tampico Area Historical Society reached its goal of $50,000, which will pay for the statue that was completed years ago. The group plans to unveil it this fall.

Until about a week ago, the society was $10,000 short, but a couple of residents took it upon themselves to donate the rest, said Joan Johnson, the society’s president.

LeClaire, Iowa artist Ted McElhiney sculpted the statue, which depicts Reagan as a boy, playing with a cannon he liked in the park across the street from his home. That cannon is long gone – removed for scrap metal during World War II.

The cannon portion of the project has been in the park for a couple of years.

McElhiney plans to bring the statue to the park after Labor Day, but will have it under a cover, Johnson said. It will be unveiled at a yet-to-be-scheduled ceremony.

The society is still selling memorial granite pavers for $1,000 each and memorial bricks for $100 each. The pavers will go near the statue and the bricks will be used in a walkway leading to it.

The society had hoped to dedicate the statue in February 2011, the 100th anniversary of Reagan’s birth in Tampico.

But it has been a struggle to get the money to pay for it. The proceeds from the Reagan centennial gala at Deer Valley Golf Club on Feb. 4, 2011, were to go toward the statue, but the project received nothing.

Unknown to attendees of the upscale affair was that the event’s keynote speaker, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, would get his usual speaking fee of $40,000, plus $5,100 for first-class, round-trip airline tickets for him and his wife, Callista.

While in Illinois, Gingrich spoke at a state Republican event in Chicago to honor Reagan. Organizers of the local event tried to get help from state Republicans with Gingrich’s travel costs – to no avail.

A $25,000 corporate pledge for the gala fell through, organizers said. Because of that and the Gingrich bill, the statue got no money from the event.

To help

Memorial pavers and bricks still are available for the Reagan statue project in Tampico. A walkway consists of 4-by-8-inch bricks and 12-by-6-inch pavers. The pavers, near the statue, go for $1,000 each, and the bricks are $100 each.

Anyone interested in buying an engraved brick or paver is asked to place the order before Sept. 1. The final order will be processed and landscaping completed before the statue dedication ceremony, which is expected this fall.

Contact Shirley Lester, 815-499-4770, or Joan Johnson, or 815-622-8705, for more information.

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