OREGON – Decades-long efforts to restore a historic treasure in Lowden State Park received a boost from the state budget approved in the House on Thursday.
The Senate had OK’d the $38.5 billion budget late Wednesday, and now it’s headed to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has said he will sign it.
The budget includes a $350,000 state grant that will go a long way in repairing the Black Hawk statue. The money was promised nearly a decade ago, but because of the state’s budget problems, the state never delivered.
“This is the reappropriation of a commitment that was made in 2009, and it was never paid,” State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, said.
The grant was from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and it was to be administered through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The statue’s location in a state park puts it under the jurisdiction of the IDNR.
The statute, created by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1910, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
About $600,000 has already been spent on the restoration efforts, including $42,000 for rented scaffolding at the site.
The Black Hawk Restoration Team, affiliated with Oregon Together, is working to raise the estimated $500,000 needed to complete repairs to the 48-foot-high statue. The grant should jump-start the local fundraising efforts.
“I’m pleased that after all these years, the state has finally made good on its commitment to this landmark,” Demmer said.
The money can be released when the new fiscal year starts July 1. Work could resume sometime this summer.