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Examiner
  • Pioneering women inspired Pioneer Woman statue

  • The missing Pioneer Woman statue reflects the history of Independence in a couple of ways.



    The statue – missing since the weekend and evidently stolen – is a testament to spirit of the women who headed west with their families on the major trails out of Independence.

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  • The missing Pioneer Woman statue reflects the history of Independence in a couple of ways.
    The statue – missing since the weekend and evidently stolen – is a testament to spirit of the women who headed west with their families on the major trails out of Independence.
    There’s also another story. Barbara Potts was the city’s first woman mayor, and she was in office in 1990 when the National Frontier Trails Center opened.
    Also, Carol Sue Bass was head of the Independence Chamber of Commerce board, and Helen French was head of the Independence Board of Education.
    “It was the first time women held those key offices at once,” said David Aamodt, curator of what is now the National Frontier Trails Museum, on Pacific Avenue, a few blocks south of the Square, in the old Waggoner-Gates Mill.
    And for Potts the memories are personal. She grew up in the area where the old mill was, and remembers it as an active mill.
    “That buillding is special to me,” she said.
    Jump ahead to 1990, when the museum is opening.
    “It was just coincidental that the idea (for the statue) evolved at the same time,” she said.
    The three women leaders “just realized, you know, we were making modern history,” Potts said.
    It took $35,000 to get the statue done. It’s six feet tall and made of bronze. Potts said she and others went to women’s groups in the community to raise the money.
    “And we did it. It was pretty amazing,” she said.
    Aamodt said that fundraising, rather than finding one large donor, makes the statue more of a community treasure.
    “That’s a lot of what was taken,” he said.
    Independence police on Tuesday said they’re looking for the statue. It was noticed missing Monday morning.
    The department released photos Tuesday evening of what they are calling persons of interest. Anyone who recognizes the people or the vehicle shown in the photos is asked to contact police. The photos are stills from a security camera at a location the police didn’t disclose. In some photos, two men are seen dragging a large tub toward what appears to be a Mercury Tracer wagon. Other images come from inside a business. All the photos are posted at examiner.net and on The Examiner’s Facebook page.
    “It breaks my heart. This is more than a financial crime. It’s an important piece of history,” Potts said, adding that camera security is needed at the city’s many other historic sites.
    “It’s a better investment that sitting around figuring out what to do when the deed is done,” she said.
    Police spokesman Tom Gentry said it looks as if the statue was tipped over and dragged 10 or 15 feet to a vehicle.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’re guessing, but more than likely it was at least two people,” he said.
    Two rewards are being offered. One is for up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the case.
    “We will press charges,” said Police Chief Tom Dailey.
    The other reward, posted by the city, is for up to $4,000 for the safe and intact return of the statue.
    People are asked to call the TIPS Hotline, 474-TIPS (8477), with any information.
     

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