By BILL SHEA
Pocahontas Mayor Dick Gruber displays an artist’s rendition showing a teepee that will be built next to the Pocahontas statue on Iowa Highway 3. The Pocahontas County Foundation awarded a grant Wednesday to help pay for the teepee.
POCAHONTAS -The statue of the Native American woman for whom Pocahontas is named may someday be joined by other pieces of public art throughout the county.
The beginning of a planning process that might lead to other statues, murals, fountains and additional objects intended to add beauty to the area was announced Wednesday.
''This project is in its very preliminary stages,'' said Tom Grau, the director of the Pocahontas County Economic Development Commission. ''All ideas are going to be welcomed.''
David Dahlquist, the artist and teacher who has been hired to lead the effort, explained that it will rely heavily on the input of local residents.
''It's not a matter of imposing something on Pocahontas County,'' he said. ''Instead, the idea is that something will grow out of what we hear.''
The project was introduced during the annual meeting of the Pocahontas County Economic Development Commission and the Pocahontas County Foundation. About 65 people attended the event at the Rialto Theater in Pocahontas.
The commission and the foundation joined forces to hire Dahlquist, who is the creative director of RDG Dahlquist Art Studio, which is a part of RDG Planning & Design in Des Moines.
Grau said a $2,000 grant has been received from the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust, of Fort Dodge, to help pay for the project. He added that the trust has committed to giving another $2,000 in the near future.
A series of public meetings will be held to gather input, but they haven't been scheduled yet.
Dahlquist said good public art benefits a community in social, economic and environmental ways.
He added that public art should be linked to the history and character of the community in which it's found.
Before the presentation on the new initiative, Grau gave a summary of recent development achievements.
He said the Pocahontas County Leadership Program is entering its fourth year of training residents. The sessions help people to develop leadership skills, learn effective ways of interaction and boost the vitality of their communities.
The revolving loan program offered by the commission continues, he said. The program offers loans with a 2 percent interest rate that are paid back over five years. Grau said 24 businesses have received loans since the program began six years ago.
The nine Hometown Pride committees throughout the county have received $350,994.49 worth of grants for park enhancements, landscaping and playground equipment, according to Grau.
The debut of a wind turbine maintenance shop in Fonda recently ranks as a job creation success story for the county, he said. The shop is the base of operations for 35 workers from MidAmerican Energy and turbine makers EDF and Siemens.
''Team efforts are paying off,'' he said. ''Success builds success.''