If you've noticed something missing from on top of the Polk County courthouse in the last few weeks, your eyes are not deceiving you. The statue of Lady Justice on the roof is standing there empty-handed; her scales have been gone for decades, and now she's lost her sword.
The sword, about 51/2 feet long and made of hollow galvanized metal, fell off about three weeks ago. Someone found it lying on the courthouse lawn and brought it inside to the county clerk's office.
"We've had some tremendous winds lately," said Northern Commissioner Roy Harms. "There was a crack in the seam on the sword handle, and that would have let rain and wind get inside."
The statue was inspected during the last major courthouse renovation in 1991, and she seemed to be in good shape then. She has been on the roof since the courthouse opened in 1907. The statue is hollow, supported inside by an 8 by 8-inch oak beam, and she stands 13 feet tall. It's hard to tell from street level, but Harms said she is riddled with bullet holes.
"They're mostly from people shooting at pigeons years ago," he said. "Some of them have been repaired. We fixed one bullet hole that went through her big toe, and I think she has one right between the eyes."
Harms said the sword could be put back in place if it can be repaired; seams that run the entire length of the sword would need to be re-soldered. If it can't be repaired, a new sword might have to be made. The decision was made during the 1991 renovation not to replace the balance scales that belong in the statue's left hand. The scale would have to be fairly large, and it couldn't be attached very securely.
"The people we had up there working said they would rather not get out there on that arm, and I couldn't blame them," Harms said.