High-velocity winds pushed through Lincoln on Sunday night, and the
force of the winds broke the wagon wheels. As a result, the wagon is
now sitting at a tilt with what appears to be serious damage to the
wheels and also the canopy.
At the Tuesday night meeting, interim
director Nancy Saul said there had been many offers to help the
tourism bureau get the wagon repaired and back in an upright
She noted specifically that she had heard from David Bentley, the
builder of the wagon, who said he would be interested in rebuilding
the broken parts and getting the wagon back in good condition. It
was also mentioned that once the wagon is repaired, it should be
repositioned with the front of the wagon facing southward. Doing so
would help prevent future incidents with wind.
Bentley also told Saul that when he owned the wagon, he only put
the canopy on it for special occasions. He said the best way to show
the canopy was to have it in a roll on the wagon.
In addition, Brad Matthews of Matthews Construction is the local
contractor who has kept the wagon standing until now. The work he
has done on the wagon included adding cross braces to the canopy
hoops and doing work to stabilize the wheels. Saul said that
Matthews is interested in doing the repair work.
During discussion, Andy Anderson said he thought it would be a
good idea for the person who originally built the wagon to help
rebuild it now. It was discussed as to whether or not the board
might ask Bentley to assist Matthews, but Saul said that in her
conversations with Bentley, he didn't sound too excited about
working with anyone else.
Anderson then suggested that perhaps the board should go out for
bids on the repair. Tom O'Donohue agreed, saying it would be a good
idea, plus it would satisfy what will be needed for the insurance
The bureau does carry insurance on the wagon, and it is hoped
that the repairs can be completed within the coverage amount. It was
also mentioned that in seeking bids, the board will want the bidder
to provide a timeline for the completion of work as well as a
certificate of insurance.
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Saul said she had heard from Bill Kelly with the Route 66
Byway. Kelly had told her his group has a grant program that
will assist with repairs to Route 66 attractions. He said there
was $500 available for the wagon; all he needed was an email
Saul had also heard from Martin Blitstein, the treasurer for the
Route 66 Association of Illinois. He had offered the association's
help in restoring the wagon. Saul said she asked him what he was
offering, a donation or publicity or what, and he had replied he was
offering them whatever was needed.
In addition, Bob Rankin of the Logan Railsplitting Association
had volunteered to help with the repair if needed.
As the discussions drew to a close, Andi Hake said that whatever
the board decides to do, they need to act quickly. She mentioned
that by Tuesday, every online media source had covered the collapse
of the wagon. She said she didn't want this to drag out.
It was agreed that Saul would prepare a "Request for Proposal"
for the restoration of the wagon.
On that same note, Saul has been working on an RFP for the
redesign of the tourism website. O'Donohue asked Mayor Keith Snyder
if it would be plausible to ask Sue McLaughlin, the city
administrator, to work with Saul on getting both RFPs done. He noted
that McLaughlin is a professional at preparing such documents, and
it would be helpful if she gave advice and input. Snyder said he
thought that would be a good idea.
Saul was instructed to contact McLaughlin and make arrangements
for the two to meet and review both RFPs.
Because the wagon is in the Guinness World Records, Saul was also
instructed to contact that entity about what is going on with the
wagon, so as to protect its status in the book.
[By NILA SMITH]