OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa High School steps are open but supporters want to make it official.

“The [Ottumwa Area] Chamber of Commerce is going to be up there at 2 p.m. Thursday and they’re going to cut the ribbon,” said Joyce Amos, an OHS alum who fought to keep the stairs in place.

The Ottumwa school board held meetings in 2005 on what to do about the 80-year-old set of steps that graced the front of the building. Engineers and maintenance workers had said the stairs were no longer safe.

A community committee organized by the district made a recommendation — knock down the OHS stairs to put in a ground-level entrance. The steps would be gone.

“I started a petition, and Larry McCarty came in and helped me,” said Amos. “Between the [2,000] signatures and the people who wrote letters to the editor [of the Courier], when I took the petitions in front of [the school board], they rescinded the vote.”

The new plans included a reproduction of the monolithic steps, created with modern materials.

“We felt great; everybody did,” she said about the re-vote. “It was wonderful.”

On Thursday, she wants the community to show up for the dedication ceremony. In addition to the stairs, visitors will be able to see the plaque dedicating the reproduction lamp posts that illuminate them at night.

“They just light up the whole block,” Amos said.

Though made of modern high tech materials, the lamp poles look similar to the iron lights that graced the steps in the 1930s. The cost was about $5,000. Lighting organizers received donations from 21 former OHS classes, as well as dozens of individuals and businesses.

Mark Newman can be reached at 683-5358 or by e-mail at


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