Plans are underway for a project to protect a beloved Story City landmark — the Freedom Flight rock.

The large boulder is located near the interstate, on the berm area near McDonald’s. It was painted in the summer of 2015 by Rod Bohner, who is a local artist, retired art teacher and the creator of the “Norskie” cartoon.

The Freedom Flight rock is painted with patriotic images and designs to honor local landmarks and the area’s strong Scandinavian heritage.

The rock, of course, can withstand many forms of weather, but the paint on the rock isn’t as impenetrable. Snow and rain have caused the memorial to require touch-ups. That led to the idea for the current project.

“We are working to generate funds for construction and placement of an all-metal roof and lighting to protect and enhance our Story County Freedom Flight and Heritage Memorial,” said Mayor Mike Jensen.

He said the memorial has drawn a lot of attention — from locals and also from many travelers off the interstate.

“This work of art by Rod Bohner, local art teacher and Vietnam combat veteran, is a draw to our community, an honor to all veterans and the heritage of our community,” Jensen said. “We would like to give this memorial as much protection from the elements as possible, while making it more visible by adding the lighting.”

Jensen and Story County Treasurer Renee Twedt were instrumental in getting the rock placed in Story City a couple of years before the painting began. The local men’s coffee group primed the rock before Bohner began his elaborate mural, which depicts the successful Story County Freedom Flight, the bald eagle and American flag, as well as scenes from the memorials in Washington, D.C. On the other side of the rock — facing the road — are various scenes and attractions found in Story City. All of the paint was donated by Sherwin-Williams in Ames.

The committee in charge of the project is hoping to raise $7,000 for the project. If you’d like to donate, checks can be made out to “The Memorial Roof & Lighting Fund” and dropped off at Story City Greater Chamber Connection or mailed to Mike Jensen, 406 Pennsylvania Ave., Story City, IA 50248.