August 3, 2010

Constitutional mission arrives in Osky

The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — Gary Stephenson wants to put a framed lithograph of the U.S. Constitution in the courthouses of all 99 Iowa counties. Monday morning, Mahaska became county number 46 in his quest.

Stephenson and officials of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars presented the Constitution to the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors during their meeting Monday.

“It’s my pleasure to do it,” Stephenson said after unveiling the Constitution that was encased in a gold frame.

Stephenson wants to honor those Iowa service members, past and present, who defend our freedoms at home and overseas. He is continuing the work that his late father, Daniel Stephenson, started; Daniel had placed 25 copies of the Constitution in courthouses around the state.

The framed lithographs were printed in 1934 and were discovered in Chicago in 1987.

The gift to the Mahaska County courthouse was made possible by contributions from local sponsors: Drost Equipment Inc., Gatton Realty, Malcom Lumber, MidWestOne Bank, Oskaloosa Glass, and David and Carol Polkowske.

“This will hang here in the courthouse for many years to come,” Stephenson said.

“That will show up nice,” Supervisor Willie VanWeelden said. “We’ll get her hung.”

The supervisors also learned that the Mahaska County Conservation Board will receive a $100,000 grant from the Watershed Improvement Review Board for a three-year project at White Oak Lake.

The grant money will be used for silt bands in the lake’s watershed to help prevent soil erosion, MCCB Director Dave Sedivec said.

“That will help a lot,” Board Chairman Lawrence Rouw said.

Sedivec said the engineering for the silt bands will be done this year and work will commence next year.

Mahaska County roads have taken a beating from the weather this summer, and County Engineer Jerry Nusbaum presented a damage estimate to the supervisors.

Since June 1, county roads have sustained an estimated $598,500 damage. Mahaska County has not been placed on a federal disaster aid list, but federal officials met recently with Nusbaum and he gave them a tour around the county and presented his estimates to them.

Some big-ticket items include $145,000 for additional rock for roads, $120,000 for slide repair on Highway 92 and $100,000 for brush removal from drainage structures.

“We’re just hammered,” Nusbaum said. “We never anticipated it’d go on like this.”

“The message: ‘We’ve been hit pretty hard,’” he said.

Nusbaum said he was confident that Mahaska County will be put on the federal disaster list, which would make the county eligible for federal asssistance.


Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com