Spectrum/Room for both cancer center, museum/civic center

Friday, May 5, 2006

Our community is about to experience a fascinating challenge.

Almost simultaneously, two groups in the community are conducting major fund-raising campaigns.

Fitzgibbon Hospital has announced its drive to raise money to finance an oncology center on the hospital's campus off U.S. 65.

At the same time, the Nicholas Beazley Aviation Museum/Marshall Civic Center is beginning its fund-raising campaign for its facility adjacent to the Marshall Municipal Airport.

Both are worthy projects.

Both are multi-million dollar projects.

Both dig into pockets buffeted by the economic winds of change in Saline County, the state of Missouri, America and the world.

So one has to lose, right?

Wrong.

Although I would fault the timing of the two projects nearly simultaneously canvassing the community at the same time, that issue is behind us now.

The challenge is how to fund these multi-million dollar projects designed to make our community a better place to live and work.

We have had several readers submit letters to the editor extolling the virtues of the new cancer center at Fitzgibbon Hospital.

We've published those letters, offering this editorial page -- as we do with all local issues -- as a public forum for the community.

I suspect that the newspaper will now receive letters concerning the Nicholas Beazley project.

I welcome those, too.

From where I sit, for people to reach into their wallets and support these worthy projects they need to understand how they will change the face of the community.

For example, did you know that Marshall High School's Little Theater, where many productions are held, is in dire need of lighting repairs among other needed improvements?

And the Harold L. Lickey Auditorium at Bueker Middle School, which ably hosts many community events, is starting to show its age.

It is a shame that wonderful rooms such as the auditorium -- which I think has excellent acoustics both for the audience in the balcony and the main floor -- can't serve us forever, but technology changes and our students and adults should benefit from the latest technology available for hosting music programs and other events.

The idea of a Marshall Civic Center is a viable one in the community. A civic center can become a magnet to attract new community events to the Marshall area, as well as the place to host existing events. It's a win-win situation.

The added historical significance of honoring R.B. Nicholas and Howard Beazley at the facility will bring new visitors to Saline County.

I've already talked to aviation buffs who are looking forward to the new aviation history facility.

Turning to the Fitzgibbon project, it only makes sense to build the oncology unit since many of our residents are having to make the sometimes treacherous Interstate 70 journey to Columbia for cancer treatments.

Yes, it's treacherous to drive I-70 in the middle of the winter when the big trucks are zipping their way along the highway.

It is a fact of life that many of our residents experience cancer or have someone in their family who has been stricken by the dreaded disease.

My father died of cancer in 1969 while we lived in the Pittsburgh, Pa., area, and I have also witnessed my friends succumb to the disease.

Let's hope the researchers can find a cure someday to wipe this scourge off the planet.

If the people at Fitzgibbon and the medical alliances that they have cemented with the cancer specialists can staff this new center,

I believe the community should support it through financial donations.

The way I see it, the establishment of the oncology center, in addition to the aviation museum-civic center, will assure a wonderful quality of life for Saline County residents for many, many years to come.

Let's get behind both projects.

Mason is the editor of The Marshall Democrat-News. Spectrum appears on Friday.