When the meeting ended, talk about Chief Wapello began.
During their regular session Tuesday, the Wapello County Board of Supervisors discussed renting out some county land to a farmer, setting a public meeting about paving Rock Bluff Road and putting an abandoned property back on the county tax rolls.
But the discussion was most animated when the meeting adjourned.
“I found a nice trailer for Chief Wapello,” Supervisor Jerry Parker said into the speaker phone.
Supervisor Steve Siegel was on the other end of the phone. Parker said he’d looked at all sorts of trailers. Most were too big to haul around or would require the chief to be stored flat on its back.
“Laying down, you completely lose the effect of how tall he is,” Parker said.
Until a storm blew it down in mid-June, the Native American figure stood atop the courthouse where the board was meeting. Supervisors estimate the hand-hammered metal sculpture was purchased around 1892. It’s only been down once before, more than 50 years ago for a restoration.
The recent estimate suggests repairs from the fall after the storm are going to be $23,000.
While waiting for the restoration firm to start working on repairing damage from the fall, Parker wants residents to be able to view the well-known figure up close. Supervisors have discussed taking “The Chief” to parades and other area events.
“We’re going to see if there’s a way to stand him up and secure him,” Parker said.
Parker also wants a sign to give a brief history of the statue, referred to by county residents as “Chief Wapello.”
Over the speaker phone, Siegel told Parker to make sure he drives whatever route he’s going to take before he drives with the figure. Parker agreed. They don’t want to run into any obstacles trying to drive along the road with an 11-foot-tall “Indian Chief,” as the 1892 catalog calls the figure, riding in back.
Supervisor Greg Kenning acknowledged he’s feeling a bit of anxiety over driving around with the beloved statue.
“I don’t think the insurance company [will be happy] if there’s any further damage,” he said.
But being able to see the sculpture up close, he said, could be enlightening for admirers. He said the handworked detail was not noticeable from five stories below. For example, the figure has a quiver as well as a bear-claw necklace.
After the tour but before the statue is mounted atop the courthouse, supervisors have discussed putting “The Chief” on display inside the courthouse.
In other business, the board set a public hearing for the paving of Rock Bluff Road. That’s when Brian Moore, the county engineer, will have more specifics about the improvement, which is part of the Chillicothe Bridge project.
“We’ll explain detours and staging at the public hearing,” Moore said when asked about how people will travel during the roadwork.
His department will also talk about how the work will be done and when. In general, however, he said the project won’t be done this year.
Approximately four miles of road — currently all gravel — are to be paved.
“I think folks will be anxious to get started,” Siegel said.
Moore said that there’s still a lot of work to be done, including securing right-of-way. Like cities, the county controls some of the land along the side of its roads. But that’s not enough to do the job, said Moore.
That means, they’ll have to offer fair-market value for some extra property along the route.
Chariot for a Chief: Supervisors discuss trailer to transport 11-foot-statue to area parades, events
When the meeting ended, talk about Chief Wapello began.
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