Historical Society meets Friday

Deb McGinn to present program about historical plaques around the courthouse square

As part of the infrastructure make-over that has happened the last two years around the Greene County Courthouse Square in Jefferson, attractive brass plaques have been attached to brick pedestals, telling the stories of 10 notable people or icons important in county history.

Deb McGinn, chairperson of the committee that finalized the list of honorees, got the stories written and the plaques made and installed, will tell how they made it happen when the Greene County Historical Society meets Friday, June 5, at the First Presbyterian Church in Jefferson.

There will be a 12 noon fried chicken lunch, for which Historical Society members should RSVP to their community contacts by Wednesday, June 3; others who want to have lunch can RSVP to Mary Weaver at 515-360-8046. The actual program, at 1 pm at the church, is free and open to the public.

McGinn serves on the board of directors of the Jefferson Matters: Main Street program, is chairperson of its promotion committee and Tower View Team, and in that capacity got involved with the historical signage on the square in 2013.  “Mike Palmer, the city administrator, asked if Main Street could take on this signage project as they were completing the work updating the square,” she said. “The idea had been around for about seven years, and there’d even been almost enough money raised to pay for the plaques, but it had just fallen by the wayside.”

The committee went to work, settled on the historical figures and landmarks that would be featured, persuaded retired Jefferson Herald publisher/editor Rick Morain to write the narratives, and engaged Jefferson Monument Works to make the plaques.  The plaques also have “QR codes,” which can take a “smart phone” user to pages on the City of Jefferson website, where they can learn more about the people and see photos of them.  And Dianne Piepel, of the Community Betterment organization, then put together a brochure available to people who want to take a walking or driving tour to the houses where the honored community leaders once lived.

The plaques were completed and installed during 2014, although McGinn says her committee is “standing by in case there’s interest in doing more of these.”  She said there is room for an additional 20 historical plaques on the brick pedestals around the square.

“I think these plaques give Greene County and Jefferson something kind of different, because they make history so readily available,” McGinn said. “When tour groups come in now, we find that many of the people take the time to walk all around the square, reading the plaques and learning more about our community.”

Also of note, the Greene County Historical Museum is now operating on its regular summer schedule, which has it open on Saturdays from 9 am to noon and Wednesdays from 1 to 4 pm. Museum tours can be scheduled at other times by leaving a phone message at 515-386-8544.

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