IDNR officials meet with conservator applicants

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By Vinde Wells

vwells@oglecounty

news.com

Another step was taken in the right direction this week for the restoration of the Black Hawk statue.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) officials and engineer Amy Lamb Woods met Tuesday morning with two applicants for conservator on the project to repair the iconic monument.

The group met at Lowden State Park near Oregon where the 105-year-old statue stands on a high bluff overlooking the Rock River.

State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) said Tuesday that he had spoken with IDNR officials, who told him they have narrowed their search for a new conservator to two candidates and were meeting with them to discuss the project.

Woods confirmed Tuesday morning that she was attending the meetings as well. 

Previous conservator Dr. Andrzej Dajnowski from Conservation of Sculpture & Objects Studio, Forest Park, declined to sign a new contract with the IDNR for this year due to a conflict with Lamb Woods over how to proceed with the repairs.

Created by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1910 as a tribute to Native Americans, the 50-foot statue draws thousands of visitors each year. It was unveiled and dedicated in 1911.

Black Hawk, as it is commonly called, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2009.

The effects of time and weather have caused parts of the statue to crumble and fall off.

The repair project ground to a halt earlier this year because of state budget woes and the conflict between Lamb Woods and Dajnowski.

Demmer assured a group of Oregon residents at a Chamber of Commerce Lunch ’n’ Learn June 21 that he would work with the IDNR to get the project underway again.

“I’ll definitely be a strong advocate for Black Hawk,” he said then.

Part of the lunch discussion focused on funds raised to repair the statue.

The Friends of the Black Hawk Statue, an organization formed approximately seven years ago to develop a plan and raise the funds to have the statue repaired, has raised most of the estimated $900,000 needed.

All but $350,000 came from private donations that are being kept in a fund with the Illinois Conservation Foundation, which supports IDNR programs.

The rest is a $350,000 grant to the IDNR from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

The DCEO grant must be spent before the private donations can be tapped.

The grant money can’t be released until the General Assembly passes budget legislation allowing it, which Demmer said still hasn’t happened.

“Money for the grant was not included in the stop-gap budget [passed June 30],” Demmer said. “We mainly focused on keeping agencies open.” 

He said grants will be considered in future budget action.

“Hopefully, that will happen in the next round — hopefully,” he said. “I’ll see what I can do.”

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