First off, the city of Ottumwa cannot put its own signs on a state highway. There are fences that run along each side of the highway, and inside those fences is considered state property. So, any sign that is put up inside of the fences has to be state mandated.
However, the land that is outside of the fences is owned by the county unless sold to someone else. For that land, the city and Wapello County can enter into a municipal signage agreement, where the county will agree to let the city put signs on the county’s property.
If that agreement was reached, the city would then be able to make its own signs to promote Ottumwa and all it has to offer. But, there is a lot that has to be done first, according to Richards, such as getting the right people in the community involved.
“Our next step is to begin pulling entities together that have an interest to ensure cooperation,” he said. “The big thing is teamwork.”
In a time when Ottumwa is looking to strengthen the economy of the city, one solution, according to Richards, is to simply promote all the city has to offer to those driving by.
— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh