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Interpretive Center Site Approved

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The Iowa Preserves Advisory Board has approved the site for the proposed Loess Hills Archaeological Interpretive Center near Glenwood.

The recommended location is near the intersection of Highway 34 and Levi Road, south of the Glenwood city limits in what’s currently known as Foothills Park. The land is part of a 906-acre state preserve.

 “This is the news we have been eagerly awaiting. Now we can swing into high gear for fundraising,” said Jean Jaskierny, president of the Loess Hills Archaeological Interpretive Center board of directors.

The proposed facility is projected to carry a price tag of $8 - $9 million. The center would be devoted to shedding more light on the earthen-lodge-dwelling Native Americans who lived in the extreme western Iowa and eastern Nebraska area between 600 and 750 years ago.

Jaskierny said the center is envisioned as being not only a significant tourist attraction, but also a major facility for on-going archaeological study of the ancient Americans, which archeologists have named “The Glenwood Culture.”
Several Midwest colleges and universities as well as area high schools have expressed interest in being a part of the archeological studies that will continue on the preserve and in the interpretive center.

Rural Glenwood resident Rob Simmon, head of the local board’s fund-gathering effort, said he expects a major part of the funding will come from regional and national sources. Simmon said he also expects some families and organizations to honor specific persons or groups by financing areas of the center which would then bear the honoree’s name.

Proponents of the center believe the new U.S. Highway 34 bridge across the Missouri River, expected to be completed by the end of 2014, will increase the traffic near the site of the proposed facility.

Detailed blueprints for the center have not yet been produced, “but we already have a professionally produced 45-page full-color document that we can present to prospective funding sources as we seek grants and donations from foundations, corporations, trusts, companies and individuals,” Simmon said.

Preliminary estimates indicate the center would need about 18,000 square feet to properly display and explain the Glenwood Culture materials and to provide work space for archeological studies, he said.

The State Preserves Advisory Board has ruled that no construction or site work can begin until the Interpretive Center Board of Directors has in hand enough funds or funding  pledges to cover all construction costs. Thus, Simmon said, no date for ground breaking has been set. He said it is hoped the center could be opened by the end of 2016.
Simmon noted that funds will also be set aside for an endowment fund to help sustain operation of the center after its opening.