By Vinde Wells
It’s official — enough money has been raised to go ahead with making the long-awaited repairs to the Black Hawk Statue.
Eric Schenck, executive director of the Illinois Conservation Foundation, made the announcement Sept. 21 at the annual ICF Gala in Springfield, where members of the Oregon community were among those honored.
Schenck said the $225,000 raised in the last few months by the Oregon Together Black Hawk Restoration Team means contracts can be signed and work can proceed.
“At least $225,000 is now available to match the grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity,” he said Tuesday morning. “Some of the money is in the form of pledges, not checks. We are extremely confident we have the money and everything we need to proceed.”
Schenck praised the efforts of the Oregon community in raising the funds needed and said a table was reserved for them at Gala.
“We wanted to recognize and thank those from the Oregon community who worked so diligently to raise this money,” he said.
At this point, Schenck said the Illinois Department of Conservation, which has jurisdiction over the statue, is working with the vendor, Quality Restorations Inc., of Wood Dale, to get concrete mixes prepared for the repairs.
A three-party contract is also being drawn up between the IDNR, ICF, and Quality Restorations Inc. for the actual repair work.
“Most likely what we’re looking at is a spring start for the restoration work,” Schenck said.
The 48-foot concrete statue will most likely be wrapped in the upcoming weeks to protect it from the winter weather, he said. It has spent the last four winters in protective wrappings.
Schenck said maintenance of the 107-year-old statue will be an ongoing project, even after the repairs are completed next year.
“It’s not one and done,” he said. “There’s a lot that will need to be done to keep this iconic statue in good condition and accessible to the public. It’s an ongoing and diligent effort.”
The statue, created by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1910 as a tribute to Native Americans, is situated on a high bluff overlooking the Rock River at Lowden State Park near Oregon.