OREGON – The Eternal Indian might just be ready to crack a smile.
Plans are being completed and the paperwork is being prepared for restoration work to finally begin on the Black Hawk statue, after years of on-again/off-again efforts to restore the local landmark.
State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, said Tuesday that he’s been in touch with state agencies and officials ever since money for the statue was finally freed up almost a month ago.
The state budget included the long-awaited release of a $350,000 grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for repairs to the wounded warrior overlooking the Rock River.
Demmer said he’s been working closely with the IDNR ever since the budget was approved and “everything seems to be in place and ready to go for the grant. … It’s going well. We haven’t run into any problems.”
The grant was approved in 2009, but was never paid due to the state’s ongoing budget woes.
Demmer said IDNR officials told him last week that they’re working on mixtures for the concrete to repair the cracks in the crumbling statue and rebuild areas where chunks of the 100-plus-year-old landmark have fallen off.
The money should be released sometime after the state’s new fiscal year begins Sunday.
Demmer said he doesn’t yet have a date for work on the statue to begin, but hopes to have that information by Monday when he comes to Oregon to present the approved budget resolution to members of the Oregon Together Black Hawk Restoration Team.
Protective tarps were removed from the 48-foot statue June 1, revealing that it had deteriorated even more in the 18 months it had been covered by the black plastic.
Prior to that the statue was surrounded by scaffolding and wrapped with green plastic mesh for 2 years to protect it from the elements. The statue has fallen prey to time and the elements, with parts of it crumbling away and chunks falling off.
An estimated $500,000 is needed to complete the repair process started in 2014.
The statue was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, and 6 years later was placed on a list of the Most Endangered Historic Places in the state by Landmarks Illinois.