You don't know Jack

Friday, September 13, 2013

We wholeheartedly embrace Jack Montgomery's keen perspective in his Letter to the Editor in the Sept. 11 Chronicle Times concerning a proposed "Freedom Rock" for Cherokee County.

The original Iowa Freedom Rock located in Adair County was painted by a local artist in 1999. Ray Sorensen II first painted a military tribute on this rock and has done so for the past 14 years and it draws visitors from across the country and abroad. Sorensen would like to create a Freedom Rock Tour and establish a Freedom Rock in each of the 99 Iowa counties.

For a price.

Sorenson has created his own lucrative cottage industry by charging each county $5,000 per rock and then sooner or later showing up to paint the rock at his convenience of schedule. It's first come, first serve, and he's already completed one at Hawarden in Lyon County and has a waiting list.

The Cherokee City Council, Board of Supervisors, Chamber of Commerce, and Area Economic Development Corporation have already embraced Sorensen's proposal and enlisted the local VFW to explore the matter.

All have agreed there would probably be additional costs beyond the $5,000 to find a rock, choose a location, and make the site into something nice. They say funding possibilities could be private donations and possible use of the hotel/motel tax monies.

And then, out of the Larrabee blue, along comes Montgomery, an erudite gentleman farmer forever unafraid to think outside the box, to apply very sane and logical perspective to the issue.

"Why in the world would Cherokee County - a county filled with very talented artists - pay someone outside of this county to do something that could be done and maintained with local talent at a much lower price and be an engaging community project?" asks Montomery.

He even espouses some of the many benefits of the county rockin' its own rock.

1. Have local artists create ideas of what to paint on the rock and let a committee of local veterans or citizens pick the design.

2. Ask high school or middle school art teachers to work with their students in designing and painting the work. It could be a cross curriculum project that would include research of wars or the founding of this country and then designing the rock from the students' research. This could be a project every couple of years with different themes each time. You could make it a competition between the two county high schools or three county middle schools.

3. Senior citizens have a rock painting group that meets at the Community Center in Cherokee every Monday. Talk to them about design input.

4. Leave the rock at Martin's Access to attract visitors to the park. The court house already has a beautiful war memorial.

5. Work on the project now, instead of in maybe five years.

Bravo! Jack Montgomery. Please get this guy on the Cherokee Freedom Rock Committee.