Rejoice! A new hospital nearer

opinions

September 1, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Tuesday was a red-letter day in Allen County.
The county and Iola reached accord on an agreement for local funding to aid in construction, equipping and operation of a new hospital. Details of the agreement are reported elsewhere in today’s Register.
City commissioners gave their approval unanimously, 3-0, as did county commissioners, 2-0, with knowledge that Commissioner Dick Works, unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting, was in favor.
The primary hurdle remaining is passage of a quarter-cent countywide sales tax to raise about $400,000 a year to go with up to $350,000 pledged by Iola — both components would be in place for 10 years — to fund the hospital package. Iola’s share will come from proceeds of a half-cent sales tax set aside for capital improvements.
In the coming weeks, teams of volunteers numbering in the scores will make themselves available at every opportunity to explain how manageable a quarter-cent sales tax is and how important it is that Allen Countians embrace the issue so that a new hospital may be built.
The current facility has served well for its 58 years, but age has taken a heavy toll and it is clear with even cursory examination that the old gal needs to be retired in favor of a new, modern, vibrant and comprehensive medical center to serve patients well into the future.
That will be its primary purpose: to provide cutting edge medical care within its mission as a critical access hospital.
The hospital has other roles that are important to all who live in Allen County and beg frequent review.
Allen County Hospital is a major industry, with 160 employees whose collective salaries approach $9 million a year. Em-ployees come from throughout the county, as well as those adjacent, and as residents and consumers make a significant contribution to the local economy.
Also, a new hospital will be a featured part of prospectuses distributed in a broad array of ways to encourage businesses and industries to take advantage of the strong work ethic so often demonstrated by Allen Countians, and encourage people to make any of our towns their new homes.
All that a new hospital can be will go hand in hand with other amenities to improve the quality of life throughout Allen County, in its towns and rural environs.

THE REGISTER passionately supports passage of the quarter-cent sales tax — remember, it’s 25 cents on a purchase of $100 worth of groceries — and urges all citizens to join on the positive side in the election crusade for a new hospital that will mean so much to so many while costing so little.

— Bob Johnson

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