Free Portage coloring book is now available

December 15, 2018

Break out your crayons, your markers and your color pencils. The coloring book of Portage’s historic homes is here.

There were piles of the coloring books available at Thursday’s Portage Common Council meeting, for anyone to take home.

Council member Dennis Nachreiner grabbed six – one for each of his grandchildren.

“They’ll be in my grandkids’ Christmas stockings,” he said.

The Portage Historic Preservation Commission had hoped to have the free coloring books ready for May’s observance of National Historic Preservation Month.

One of the reasons for the delays was the challenge of getting enough members to participate in the Historic Preservation Commission.

At the beginning of this year, the commission’s membership – set by city ordinance at seven – fell below four, meaning it did not have a quorum and could not conduct any business.

That problem was solved in February, when the Common Council ratified Mayor Rick Dodd’s appointment of four new commissioners – Fred Galley, Kyle Little, Crystal Thom and Anna Krause.

Krause, an artist from North Freedom, had previously been tabbed by the Historic Preservation Commission to create the line drawings of 12 historic Portage residences. In September, the Common Council approved paying Krause $700 for drawing the houses for the coloring book.

The minutes of the Nov. 7 Historic Preservation Commission show Krause reported an increase in the cost of printing the coloring books – not for drawing them – from $1.07 to $1.17 for each of the 500 copies printed. The commission unanimously approved the higher cost, which raised the total printing cost from $535 to $585.

At Thursday’s Common Council meeting, Council Member Doug Klapper, who is chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission, took issue with Council Member Rita Maass raising questions about the higher cost of printing. In particular, he objected to the use of the word “kickbacks.”

“In my time on the council, I have never heard such a baseless accusation,” Klapper said, during the discussion of approval of the minutes of previous meetings.

The minutes of the Dec. 5 Historic Preservation Commission meeting show “general discussion” of the comment, but no commission action.

Maass responded that she did not intend to impugn anyone’s character. She said she merely wanted to know if the increased printing price stemmed from a conflict of interest.

“There was no accusation. It was a question,” Maass said. “I got my information, and I left it at that.”

Klapper told the council that the coloring book was more than a year in the making, and he’s happy and grateful to offer it to anyone who wants it – including school classes that might want to use it for a unit on local history or historic architecture.

The historic homes featured in the book are not necessarily on either the national, state or local historic registers. But every owner of a featured home got multiple copies of the coloring book, Klapper said.

The book also includes a map of the featured homes’ locations, a brief history of each of the homes and a glossary of historic architecture terms such as such as balustrade (a decorative railing), fish scale shingles (commonly used in the gables of Victorian homes) and parapet (a low guarding wall at any point of a sudden drop at the edge of a roof).

“It took us a while to get it here,” Klapper said, “but we are rather proud of it.”

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