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Local

'An outside-the-box proposal' – Golf course owner offers $400,000 to fix Black Hawk

Through the years, despite numerous repair efforts, parts of the Black Hawk statue have crumbled and fallen off. Now, the IDNR is considering a golf course owner's offer to pay $400,000 to repair the statue in exchange for a 50-year lease on 100 acres of Shabbona Lake State Park.
Through the years, despite numerous repair efforts, parts of the Black Hawk statue have crumbled and fallen off. Now, the IDNR is considering a golf course owner's offer to pay $400,000 to repair the statue in exchange for a 50-year lease on 100 acres of Shabbona Lake State Park.

OREGON – The IDNR is considering a golf course owner’s offer to pay $400,000 to repair the Black Hawk statue in exchange for a 50-year lease on 100 acres of Shabbona Lake State Park.

Indian Oaks Golf Club owner Bruce Novak wants to expand the nine-hole course that adjoins the park to 18 holes.

“I think it’s a win-win for everybody,” Novak said. “I was looking for 100 acres to use for the golf course. It’s a win-win for Black Hawk, for my golf course, and for the Shabbona state park.”

He made the proposal in an email to state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, and Demmer presented it to Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials this afternoon.

“The department is willing and interested in reviewing this idea,” Demmer said. “It’s an outside-the-box proposal.”

The IDNR has jurisdiction over state parks, including Lowden State Park near Oregon, where the statue overlooks the Rock River.

The department has lease agreements for property in other state parks, and has asked Novak to submit a formal proposal outlining the acres he wants.

Officials will review the proposal to determine the short- and long-term impacts to the environment, wildlife and habitat, and park operations.

“Pending the outcome of the review, they may go ahead,” Demmer said.

Although it’s also is considering other options, “it’s encouraging that the IDNR is willing to look at this.”

Novak emailed Demmer after hearing him say at a recent news conference that donations are being accepted to complete Black Hawk repairs.

Oregon Together, a volunteer organization, recently formed a Black Hawk Restoration Team to raise the estimated $500,000 still needed to repair the statue’s crumbling surface. Member Roger Cain has talked to Novak, but declined to comment on the proposal.

Created by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1910 as a tribute to Native Americans and listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2009, the 48-foot statue has been ravaged by weather and time.

Over the years, despite numerous repair efforts, parts of the statue have crumbled and fallen off. Winters have been especially devastating. In fact, it has been encased in protective wrap for 4 years, but IDNR officials have agreed to remove it sometime this month in order to generate more interest in public donations.

If funding permits, repairs will start this summer and finish in summer 2019, the IDNR has said. 

Fundraiser for statue will be next week

OREGON – The Oregon Together: Black Hawk Restoration Team is having a spring luncheon fundraiser to celebrate the unwrapping of the Black Hawk statue on at 1 p.m. May 20 at the Lorado Taft Field Campus Dining Hall overlooking the Rock River.

Tickets are $100 each, with proceeds benefiting its restoration.

After lunch, John Lindhorst will sing “A River Flows Through Me;” Frank Rausa and Jan Stilson will discuss the committee’s work; and Lorado Taft impersonator Ron Colson will talk about Taft’s love for the area.

There also will be a silent auction of art that will include an autographed copy of Stilson’s book, “Art and Beauty in the Heartland,” a 2-foot bronze model of Black Hawk and smaller models by Art Casting of Illinois, and original paintings and drawings.

Reservations are due Wednesday; call Stilson at 815-732-7439 to save a place. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

Donations for repairs also may be made to the Illinois Conservancy Fund at https://www.ilcf.org/portal/ the foundation from which the IDNR can draw to pay for renovation.

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