Maxwell residents’ pride in their community was key in getting the town chosen as the location of Story County’s Freedom Rock. The Maxwell Area Renewal Committee (MARC), along with the leadership of MARC member Tara Huntrods, have been working hard to get the details of the project complete. This included finding a rock to be placed on the northeast side of the park - and it’s not just a rock, it is an approximately 50,000 pound rock.

The rock will be part of the Freedom Rock Tour. Artist Bubba Sorensen will be painting rocks in each of Iowa’s 99 counties over the next few years to spread the message of thanking our veterans and also creating an instant tourist attraction. Information about the Freedome Rock Tour can be found on their website, www.thefreedomrock.com/tour.

Another local resident wanted people to know, "Most important, this rock is a symbol of the freedom and liberty that we have that is guaranteed by the sacrifices of our troops."

Finding a rock

There are lots of folks who have come together to make this happen. But in the end, it was Tara Huntrods who got this ball rolling and took action to get Maxwell selected to host the "Freedom Rock." Tara, who is a strong community supporter, was discussing her idea of having a "freedom rock" in Maxwell with a few people, and that the town would have to pay $5,000 for the project. This would secure Maxwell as the location in Story County for the rock, plus the town would have to pay to obtain a rock, move it and complete any landscaping needed for the area where the rock would be placed.

She was happy to hear soon after this that Grassfire, a local business co-owned by Bob and Randy Pritchard of Maxwell and Steve Elliott from Chesapeake, VA, would donate the initial funds of $6,000 for this project to take place.

Tara completed the application to have Maxwell chosen as the Freedom Rock location and sent it off the next day. She then had dialog with officials of the "Freedom Rock" and was notified that Maxwell had been selected. The next step was to locate a rock. Tara mentioned to the MARC committee that her father, Everett Smith, had a huge rock out on his farm, but it would require a little digging to get it out- and that was if they could figure out how to dig it out. Everett wasn’t exactly sure how big the rock was. Approximately 30-40 years ago they had tried to dig and dynamite the rock, but couldn’t get it to budge, so it stayed put.

They contacted John Falvey, another lifelong Maxwell resident and veteran, who has some excavating equipment to see if he thought he could take a look at it sometime and if he could dig it out. Tara knew the digging of the rock would be a huge undertaking and hoped John could do it.

A few days later, John was digging, clawing, pushing and pulling to unearth the rock. In the end, he prevailed and brought the rock to the surface. It measures approximately 7 ft x 9 ft x 11 ft and we guessed it to weigh 50,000 lbs. John remarked "another 10 pounds and I don’t think I could’ve brought it out."

Moving the rock

Tara knew of some connections that might help and contacted her good friend Brad Kohlwes with Argee trucking. They specialize in hauling very large objects. (They are the ones who transported the Karl Chevrolet rock from Northern Wisconsin to Ankeny). Not only did Brad think it wouldn’t be a problem to move, but he offered to donate his services to get it done. In order to move it, however, they would need a crane – a very large crane. Brad suggested they contact Dave’s Crane out of Union since he had worked with them on a number of projects. Brad called Tyse at Dave’s Crane and they were sure they could lift it, but it would need to be near the road first.

The biggest decision left was where to place the rock in Maxwell. They had an impromptu meeting at the park with councilman Shannon Robertson, city maintenance man BJ Elding, John Falvey and Dick Milligan of the VFW and Legion to discuss locations for a rock of this size and where the best place would be for visitors as well. They thought having it near the current memorial will be bring more visitors to the area to see it all.

John Falvey later went to the city council and asked for approval to have the rock placed at the city park. The council and mayor all thought this was going to be a great thing to have for the town of Maxwell and all voted yes.

The Maxwell Legion Post has voted on being the host of this project and help collect donations for support and maintaining the memorial area. There also will be a Story County Freedom Rock checking account set up at Maxwell State Bank in Maxwell for this project.

A volunteer will be at the Old Settlers Picnic handing out information on the rock this weekend. For a donation of $30 or more, you will have an engraved brick with a special veteran’s name on it installed in a sidewalk at the Veterans Memorial in the Maxwell Park. Your donation will help sponsor other veterans’ bricks and help with funding on the maintenance of the memorial area. The hope is to start the installation of the sidewalk in the spring of 2014 and create a great hardscape of veterans names. Forms for the Veterans engraved bricks may be picked up after the Old Settlers Parade at the park and at local businesses. The forms, along with more information about the Story County Freedom Rock can be found online at www.StoryCountyFreedomRock.com.

The proposed plan from Bubba Sorenson is that the mural will be completed for the summer of 2015. That will give volunteers time to landscape and maybe get new lights installed in the area as well.

One thing is for sure - the rock will be something to be discussed around town for quite some time!

(To report Maxwell news, please call Susan Livesay at 515-387-1346, or email her at livesaysl@yahoo.com.)