April 17, 2021

Repairs to courthouse murals supported by city

Council allows Jasper County to utilize Newton Historic Preservation Commission as an applicant for grant funding

To qualify for funding that would help repair and restore the damaged murals within the Jasper County Courthouse, the county needs to form a pass-through grant agreement with the city and use the Newton Historic Preservation Commission as an applicant. On Monday, the city council approved the request.

Since Jasper County is not a certified local government, it is not eligible as an applicant of the Historic Resource Development Program grant. Instead, the city’s historic preservation commission will function as a pass-through body for the grant funding. The county is accountable for all responsibilities of the grant.

A similar process occurred for the courthouse clocktower rehabilitation, Newton Mayor Mike Hansen noted.

“We are pleased to be able to help our counterparts of county government to help them along with their restoration of this project,” Hansen said.

In December 2020, Jasper County Maintenance Director Adam Sparks presented the board of supervisors with its side of the pass-through gran agreement. At the time, the Newton Historic Preservation Commission had reviewed the proposal and was favorable of participating.

Some areas of the courthouse were exposed to moisture as a result of a past tuck-pointing project. Repairs for the courthouse — including its intricate mural that has begun to peel — are estimated to be between $225,000-$250,000.

If the grant is awarded to the historic preservation commission, Jasper County would cover no more than 50% of the project and is responsible for all other costs and grant expenses.

Sparks told supervisors the grant does not cover generic painting, but it would cover any painting with stencil work, as well as scaffolding.

The Jasper County Courthouse has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1981.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com