OREGON, Ill. (AP) — Restoration work is finally underway on a northern Illinois landmark known as the Black Hawk statue following weather-related delays.

The 108-year-old monument at Lowden State Park in the city of Oregon has spent most of the past five years beneath plastic covering to protect it from harsh weather. But workers began erecting scaffolding around the 48-foot-tall statue last Monday in preparation for the repairs.

"Hallelujah!" exclaimed Jan Stilson, the former head of the Black Hawk Restoration Team.

Quality Restorations Inc., of Wood Dale, was scheduled to begin the repair work last spring , but cold, wet weather thwarted that work, Sauk Valley Media reported.

The Black Restoration team, an extension of Oregon Together, worked to raise money to repair cracks and other damage to the monument's surface. They also partnered on the project with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Conservation Foundation.

Roger Cain, an Oregon Together member, said six weeks have been set aside for the repairs, with an extra week for "miscellaneous" work.

"Let's pray for good weather," he said.

State budget troubles delayed a promised $350,000 matching state grant for the repairs, but that funding was finally secured over a year ago. The Black Restoration team obtained another $225,000 needed for the project.

Fundraising began more than a decade ago by The Friends of the Black Hawk Statue Committee.

Sculptor Lorado Taft created the Eternal Indian statue, which is also known as the Rock River Colossus, as a tribute to Native Americans. It was dedicated in 1911 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

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