Freedom Rock project moving forward toward April ’17 painting

The original Freedom Rock in Adair County
The original Freedom Rock in Adair County

Committee begins raising funds to cover cost

Greene County was the first Home Base Iowa community with special incentives to welcome and lure military veterans, but it will be in the middle of the pack in another movement honoring those who have served our country.

Greene County is in line to have muralist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II of Greenfield come paint a 20-ton boulder as a Freedom Rock next April. There are already Freedom Rocks in 46 counties. At a pace of 10-12 rocks per year, Greene County will, at best, be in the middle.

Dawn Rudolph, Jim Andrew and Don Ihnken spoke with the Jefferson city council Tuesday about plans for the local Freedom Rock.

The idea was first mentioned to members of the local VFW and American Legion posts. The veterans asked for and received $1,000 from the county board of supervisors to book a place on Sorensen’s work schedule, but they asked for help in spearheading the project. “We didn’t want to be working on a monument for ourselves,” VFW Post 9599 commander Ihnken said at a meeting prior to the city council meeting.

County supervisor Dawn Rudolph was recruited to chair the committee. Also on the committee are Ihnken and Andrew, Kenny Arbuckle, Dave Sloan, Bob Allen and Gary Schiltz.

The committee has selected two different subjects for the art on the rock. The rock will commemorate the Greene County members of the Iowa National Guard 168th Infantry, 34th Division. Many members of the unit were taken prisoner at Kasserine Pass in Tunisia in November 1942. They were held as POWs until the end of World War Two.

The rock will also commemorate the military caravan across the Lincoln Highway in 1919. The caravan camped overnight at the Greene County Fairgrounds. Its purpose was to demonstrate that troops and supplies could be transported cross-country via a paved road system. Lt Colonel Dwight Eisenhower was in the convoy.

Andrew will locate all possible images of both subject and forward them to Sorensen for his information and consideration in designing the art. Once the rock is painted it will be sealed every year for five years, and then repainted with totally new art the sixth year.

The committee has located a very large boulder, estimated to weigh 20 tons, to become the Freedom Rock. It will be located on the fairgrounds, just west of the city-owned softball fields. The Greene County secondary roads department has agreed to haul the rock into town. Committee members declined to say where the rock is now.

Sorensen will paint the Greene County Freedom Rock next April, and the committee plans to have a dedication ceremony on Memorial Day 2017.

Total cost of the Freedom Rock project is estimated at $50-$60,000. That includes Sorensen’s fee and lodging while he’s in Jefferson, lighting, landscaping, flagpoles, parking and driveways. The Freedom Rock park will be handicap accessible.

About half the total will be needed yet this year to move the project along.

The committee intends to raise most of the money from private donations, and hopes to identify key fundraising chairs in each of the county’s towns. “This isn’t just a Jefferson thing and it’s not just the VFW or the American Legion. It’s for everyone in Greene County,” Ihnken told the council.

The committee plans to request some funding from Jefferson’s hotel/motel tax fund as the Freedom Rocks in other counties have become travel destinations.

The committee hopes to have similar conversations with other city councils in the coming months.

Persons who want more information about the Greene County Freedom Rock can contact Rudolph at 515-370-5605.

Donations can be taken to any office of Peoples Trust & Savings Bank. Checks should be payable to David M Mosher Post 9599 with “Freedom Rock” in the memo line. Donations are tax-deductible.

 

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