It was “a day of celebration” for Milt Heinrich and members of the Dana College community as a symbol of the former institution was installed Friday on the hill above the campus.
“The Dana Cross on Transformation Hill,” designed by Heinrich and funded by donations, was erected at a higher vantage point than a previous cross, which was made from telephone poles and placed by the Dana College freshman class in 1969. A little more than a year ago, it was discovered that cross had fallen.
The new 28-foot tall cross, which is made of steel i-beams with wood inserts, is tied to Dana in more than just sentiment. The i-beams were salvaged from Argo Hall, which was demolished in November.
Heinrich used the four quadrants of the cross to create a decorative element with stainless steel that reflects the sunlight.
“With the site now being Transformation Hill, I wanted the cross itself to show some transformation,” Heinrich said. “That's part of the reason for all of the glitter on it.”
The name of the installation also pays tribute to the development and future of the campus.
“We need to give credence to what's going on now,” he said.
Heinrich, a former Dana College art professor, beamed as he watched the crew from Eriksen Construction place the cross. It was a meaningful moment for Heinrich, who has created other public art displays, but doesn't get to see his artwork until it is already installed.
“Joy and satisfaction. It's been a long time coming,” he said of finally seeing the cross standing on the hill. “It's a proper addition. It really is. It's a nice tribute to the campus.”
In addition to Dana alumni, Heinrich hopes community members will also enjoy the cross, which is located just off a walking path in Black Elk-Neihardt Park.
“I walk the park in the morning often,” he said. “Hopefully, it gives a sense of reverence to their walk.”
The project cost an estimated $38,000. The Dana College Foundation collected donations. Con-E-Co donated their services for the cross. Hempel Sheet Metal of Omaha also worked on the project.
A consecration ceremony is planned for 9 a.m. Aug. 10