OTTUMWA — After nearly a year of being displayed in a lobby, the statue of Chief Wapello was raised to the roof of the courthouse.
A summer storm in 2012 tore the sculpture from its perch, snapping it off at the ankle. When the century-old statue fell two stories to a roof, it struck hard, snapping the rest of "The Chief" in half at the waist. County supervisors debated on the best course of action, but the general reaction of the public, they said, was a request to see the statue repaired.
Thursday, a crowd of nearly 100 lined Fourth Street to watch workers strapping the restored statue to a steel cable. The crane brought the statue to approximately 85 feet elevation before lowering it a few feet to assistants who guided the foot into place. The ratcheting and drilling began, making the structure secure for what one man hoped would be "another hundred years."
The Native American depicted in the sculpture — a retired high school teacher said it's not a custom sculpture of the Fox chief — is 11 feet tall. It spent months outside of Iowa being repaired by a specialist. For nearly a year, the statue has been displayed in the lobby of the Wapello County Courthouse. Because of the statue's height — the spear adds another 3 feet — "Chief Wapello" has been flat on its back that whole time.
– News reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark