Three new Pro-Life billboards can be found on Union county highways thanks to the combined efforts of the Creston Knights of Columbus and Crest Area for Life.
The project started with a conversation between Betty Baker, President of Crest Area for Life and Francis Doyle, Trustee for Council 1228 of Creston. Three landowners in the area had volunteered to host Pro-Life billboards. Betty asked Francis if the Knights of Columbus could help. Crest Area for Life is a Southwest Iowa nonprofit organization that promotes the rights of the unborn.
When Francis brought the idea to the council, the response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. The council agreed to cover half the cost of materials and provide whatever labor would be needed to complete the project.
In our first joint meeting, the Knights took on the task of determining what DOT guidelines we needed to follow and research whether permits were necessary. Crest Area for Life took on the work of fundraising to match the Knights’ donation and ordering media to cover the six 5’x10’ billboard faces needed for the three signs.
In email conversations with the DOT, we found out that these signs fall under the category of “Personal Opinion/On Premise” signs (see http://www.iowadot.gov/iowaroadsigns/onpremise.html). Essentially, that means that since the signs are on personal property, owned by the landowner and the locations for installation comply with the “Guide to Iowa Outdoor Advertising Sign Regulations” the application, fees and annual fees normally part of outdoor signs are not required.
Meg Crawford from Crest Area for Life worked with Heritage House (www.HH76.org) on the sign faces. Each sign is different and upbeat. The signs all have a Crest Area for Life imprimatur and a Knights of Columbus Logo. The font on one sign was changed to make it easier to read from a distance. We tried to keep all the messages short and simple so that they could be seen at 55 mph.
Once the signs arrived, the wooden sign faces were primed, painted and constructed in a machine shed. The team worked under a set of plans designed by Gordon Crawford. Each sign face used three pieces of plywood, six pieces of 2x4 and four pieces of 1x2. After construction, all the signs were stored in a trailer until they were delivered to the installation sites.
For each installation site, a final location outline was determined and One-Call was notified. Then the team watched the weather and arranged personal schedules to determine the dates for each install.
At each installation site, Al Pokorny used his tractor and auger to dig five post holes: one hole for a 6x6 post, two for 4x6 posts and two for 4x4 posts. The posts and subsequent bracing form a fifteen degree A-frame perpendicular to the road.
Since the properties were farmland and pasture, it was important to make sure the sign faces were situated up and out of the way of grazing cattle. Each post is sixteen feet long so the bottom of each sign face is roughly 6 ½ to 7 feet above the ground.
“It seems like we got better at installation with each sign,” said Jerry Katzer, “but they all took the same three hours to put up.”
Gordon Crawford expressed his appreciation to the Knights, “They were great to work with. They brought tools, equipment, expertise and lots and lots of enthusiasm! We really relied on them to get this done and they came through.”
Since it was getting late in the year, the last two signs were put up on weekdays to accommodate the weather. As a result, some of the Knights and Crest Area for Life members who wanted to work on the installation weren’t free to help. “That’s okay,” said Gordon Crawford, “we have another landowner that has come forward after seeing the new signs and we are already planning for another project for next year. I know where I can find some good people to team up with on that.”
Creston Council 1228 spent $1183.00 for half the materials and volunteered 117 hours on this project.
The Knights billboard committee included: Francis Doyle, Jerry Katzer, Al Pokorny, Mike Moffit, Adolfo Saturno, Jenno Saturno and Steve Heffern.
The Crest Area for Life billboard team members included: Betty Baker, Pat Pokorny, Meg Crawford, Gordon Crawford, Richard Madison and PF Allen.
Special thanks to the landowners who provided the locations for these messages: Judy & Mike Moffit, Bess Leonard & Dale Kessler and Keith & Sheila Brown.