Bike riders will have a new reason to visit the Jasper County Historical Museum, as the museum installed a new bike rack and bench over the weekend thanks to a donation by Barb and John Starrett.
“We started it (the bench and bike project) last fall,” Jasper County Museum and Historical Society Director Audrey Rex said. “We had a newsletter that we sent out, (and) we have a wish list in the back of our newsletter. Barb contacted me after she noticed an ad for a bike rack (and) maybe a park bench. She thought it was the perfect way of having a memorial for their daughter and son-in-law, Judge Thomas and Karen Brown.
Rex also said both were bike riders and Barb thought placing the new bike rack and bench near the farm structures would be a perfect memorial for them.
To make the bike rack and bench stand out, it was painted red, and was placed in a ideal location.
“There is a nice shady spot with the trees there and it is close to places to eat,” Rex said. “We are hoping it gets used quite a bit.”
She also said the museum is looking to hopefully host bike riding events in the future, but with the bike rack and bench being less than a week old, it is just in the initial stages.
Because of the donation, the museum was able to start the process of installing the bike rack and bench, and it was no easy task.
“One of my board members looked into park benches,” Rex said. “There are a lot of (websites) online, and she found Pirate Rock. It was a company out of, I believe, Cherokee. It is Iowa based. She called and asked to send samples and they sent samples, (which) are a really sturdy metal.”
One of Rex’s early concerns about the bench was shipping. A product like a bench is heavy, and that will cause shipping to be an issue, but being an Iowa-based company, The shipping was reasonable, but that was not the only reason why she decided to use the company.
“This company, also being that they’re in Iowa, painted the bench suited to our climate,” Rex said. “They already know it well. I liked that idea too.”
The next step on the installation was finding a company to pour the concrete.
“We called around to get bids on the cement,” Rex said. “Jerry Keenan (won) the bid, and (we found) out that Jerry is a neighbor of the Starrett (family). They watched Jerry grow up, basically. So it all worked out really nice that they knew Jerry.”
This was the first time Rex had experienced an installation of a bench, which she found fascinating.
“It was a brand new experience for me,” Rex said.
The memorial plate on the bench is quite different than the rest of the memorial plates typically found in Jasper County.
“I am a bike rider and I rode on several of the trails and I have stopped at all the park benches that had memorials, thanking somebody that donated to the bench or a memorial,’ Rex said. “They are basically plaques put on the bench. Talking with this company, they suggested the memorial be recessed into the bench metal. That way it can’t be taken off as easy, plus it looks really nice.”
Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.