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Plans and paperwork progress for Black Hawk statue repairs

Plans are being completed and the paperwork is in progress for restoration work to finally begin on the Black Hawk statue.

State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) said Tuesday that he has been in touch with other Illinois agencies and officials ever since the state budget was approved almost a month ago.

The budget included the long-awaited release of a $350,000 grant, from the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, earmarked for the repairs to the deteriorating concrete landmark.

Demmer said he has been working closely with the IDNR ever since the budget was approved.

“Everything seems to be in place ready to go for the grant,” he said. “Work is going on behind the scenes to be sure the paperwork is complete and the forms are filled out. It’s going well. We haven’t run into any problems.”

The grant was approved in 2009, but was never paid due to he state’s ongoing budget woes.

Demmer said IDNR officials informed him last week that they are working with the concrete mixtures necessary to repair the cracks in the crumbling statue and rebuild areas the chunks that have fallen off.

The money should be released sometime after the state’s new fiscal year begins on July 1.

Demmer said he does not yet have a date for the work on the statue to begin, but hopes to have that information by June 2 when he comes to Oregon to present the approved budget resolution to members of the Oregon Together Black Hawk Restoration Team.

“Hopefully we will have a little bit more of an update then,” he said.

The protective tarps were removed from the statue on June 1, revealing that it had deteriorated in the 18 months it had been covered by the black plastic.

Prior to that the statue was surrounded by scaffolding, wrapped with green plastic mesh to protect it from the elements for two years.

Sculptor Lorado Taft created the 48-foot concrete statue as a tribute to Native Americans in 1910. It was unveiled and dedicated in 1911.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2009, the concrete statue needs repairs due to the ravages of weather and time.

Over the years, despite numerous repair efforts, parts of the statue have crumbled and fallen off. Winter weather has been especially devastating.

An examination in 2014 revealed that the most damaged areas are the folded arms of the statue, especially the elbows and underneath the arms; the middle of the robe; and the vertical fold in the robe from armpit to toe.

Black Hawk was named to the state’s list of Most Endangered Historic Places in 2015 by Landmarks Illinois.

The Black Hawk Restoration Team was formed several months ago to continue previous fundraising efforts to pay for the statue’s repairs.

A estimated $500,000 is needed to complete the repair process started in 2014.

The statue, which is situated on a high bluff overlooking the Rock River at Lowden State Park near Oregon, draws an estimated 400,000 of visitors each year.

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