The new lectern

Lectern_2 If this journalism thing doesn’t work out, I’m always prepared to fall back on my one true talent — typing quickly — as a trade.  Statehouse reporters discovered recently that Senate Republican Leader Ron Wieck of Sioux City has a trade or a hobby that has yielded a permanent piece of furniture for his statehouse office. Wieck built a lectern.  (I choose lectern as the appropriate word, rather than podium.  Look it up and choose for yourself.)

"So when did you make this?" I asked Wieck on Thursday monring after he stood behind the lectern to talk with reporters gathered in his statehouse office for a news conference. (Thanks to Chris Dorsey from for snapping this photo.)

"Probably maybe for three or four weeks before we got down here," Wieck replied.

"Richard was joking with you," I said, referencing WHO Radio reporter Richard Lee who had asked Wieck the week before if the piece affixed to the front of the lectern was ivory (you know, like from an elephant).

"It’s not ivory. It’s genuine Corian, a countertop material," Wieck replied.

"Do you have a wood shop at home?" I asked. 

"Yea," Wieck said.  He used a router to carve a pattern on the sides of the lectern, a pattern that features a heart.

"Is this the most ambitious thing you’ve ever made beyond a birdhouse?"  I asked.

"Oh, no, no, no," Wieck said.  "My favorite thing is to build furniture.  Our son and daughter-in-law’s first home, we remodeled the kitchen and I built all the kitchen cabinets and then our youngest son and daughter-in-law, when they got married, I built their bedroom set for them and I’ve got a project started that I’ve not really done a lot with the last couple of years because of being busy with this, but I’ve started a scale-model stagecoach that’s about one-fifth scale.  I’ve got the running gear mostly completed.  I’ve made my own wheels and my own running gear and my own plating for it."

As for the lectern that’s now in use in his statehouse office, Wieck used oak.  The official state tree is oak.

"Not only that, but I used an unusual stain on it.  The stain is what’s known as a merlot.  Oak doesn’t take stain very well.  I probably should have built it out of cherry to match the desk and the table.  I wanted it to have a red cast.  Generally, I would use a provincial-type stain which is brown, a little lighter than what the rest of the woodwork is like in here," Wieck said, referencing the woodwork in his third-floor office in the northeast corner of the statehouse. 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.