KENTLAND — The Newton County Historical Society will have a “kickoff” and “meet-and-greet” to showcase their newest project to highlight the history of Newton County.

President Kay Babcock invites members and the public to the Resource Center located at the corner of US 24 and 4th Street in Kentland at 11 a.m. CST June 17 to view plans for a large, color mural that will be painted on the east wall of the Resource Center.

Rein Bontrager, artist and owner of Reinforcements Design in Renssalaer, has been chosen to paint the 100-foot-long mural that will feature many places, people and things of historical interest, both past and present, in Newton County.

All the townships in the county will be represented in the mural.

Those attending will be able to visit with the artist and view a small version of the planned mural.

A light lunch will be served in the Resource Center following the meet-and-greet event. The public is invited.

Bontreger has been a resident of both Newton and Jasper counties for the past 47 years. Moving to north of Mount Ayr at age 11 from Bremen, he graduated from North Newton High School in 1981. He started his business, Reinforcements Design, in 1985 in Rensselaer, developing self-taught skills of airbrushing and hand lettering on signs and vehicles. In the decades since, he has expanded into various additional methods of signs, graphics and shirt printing.

Bontreger has enjoyed large graphic challenges over the years, which has led to the recent interest in murals. In 2020, he created and painted a mural in Rensselaer's Iroquois Park using local historical subjects and interests to complete the project.

Utilizing that same methodology, Bontreger will be creating a large mural on the east side of the Newton County Historical Society building, highlighting various points of

interest pertaining to Newton County.

Bontrager said he is excited to embrace this project and will enjoy watching it come to life.

This mural will be completed using several freehand techniques.

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