By BILL SHEA
Admission to the Iowa Great Places program has paid off for Hamilton and Webster counties in the form of a grant that will pay most of the cost of erecting markers to highlight area attractions.
The $76,596.94 award recently made by state officials is the first one received since the two counties were added to the program in 2010 for an initiative called Where the Rivers Run Wild.
''We are really excited,'' said Cheryl O'Hern, of Fort Dodge, who is a leading organizer of the initiative.
''We thank the Iowa Great Places board, Gov. Branstad and the state of Iowa for their support and assistance in continuing our vision of quality of life and sense of place with this funding of the Where the Rivers Run Wild project,'' she added.
She said the leadership of the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust has agreed to contribute $10,000 to the project.
The money will be used to erect two types of markers called wayfinding kiosks and panels at 11 locations in the two counties. O'Hern said three more markers may also be installed, depending on how much they cost.
The kiosks will be larger than the panels. Both versions of the signs will have maps, plus what O'Hern called ''directional and historical information.''
In Webster County, the markers will be placed at these locations:
In Hamilton County, they will be placed at these spots:
The signs in both counties will look similar.
They will be installed next year by city and county employees. The work will be done by September 2013.
The markers were designed by E Resources Group, of Webster City, and Shive-Hattery Inc., of West Des Moines.