Chief Wapello

Several residents gathered last month as the metal “Chief Wapello” statue was secured for the trip to a county maintenance shop. The figure was damaged when high winds toppled the statue on June 16.

The cost to restore an 118-year-old resident to his lookout point will not fall on taxpayers.

Chief Wapello was knocked from his perch atop the Wapello County Courthouse during a severe storm on June 16, causing significant damage to his hammered copper skin, breaking some of his joints and flattening the quiver on his back.

Jensen Conservation Services, Inc., an art conservation and restoration firm out of Omaha, already flew in — at their own expense — and reviewed the “body.”

Wapello County Supervisor Jerry Parker said Nick Klepinger, an artist out of Newton, is coming in this week to do a second review of the chief.

“They’re drawing up an application now where they’ll tell us what they think needs to be done, what they can do and what the cost would be,” Parker said of Jensen Conservation. “We’ll get a similar proposal from [Klepinger], then we will have an idea of what direction we want to go.”

Thankfully, Parker said, the courthouse’s insurance will pay for the restoration.

“He is considered to be a part of the courthouse, so since the courthouse is covered, he is covered, too,” Parker said. “It would appear from reviewing it, that the damage was caused by the fall, not necessarily by him being 118 years old.”

The chief withstood 118 years of weather, Parker said, but “he just didn’t weather the fall very well.”

Within a few days, the supervisors hope to have a suggestion from the Omaha firm and Klepinger as to what direction they should go in restoring the chief to his perch atop the courthouse.

Right now, the chief is resting at the county’s secondary roads garage, Parker said.

“People have laughed at me for doing that, but he’s something that’s part of our history; he’s been there for 118 years,” Parker said. “I would hate to think of something happening to it, being stolen or parts of him stolen. If we didn’t do everything we could to make sure that doesn’t happen, I would feel really bad about that.”


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