Community can save Hall

Published 9:56 am Thursday, August 6, 2009

Many within the community say they want to see Memorial Hall saved, but are they willing to pay to do so?

If so, the community will have its chance Saturday for the first Memorial Hall Festival in front of the 107-year-old structure on Railroad Street.

Organized by the American Legion Post 433, this event is designed to raise money and interest for a project that many in the community feel is worthy but simply won’t happen unless there is an outpouring of support.

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The large rough-hewn brick structure was built in the early 1890s by the Union Civil War veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic as a meeting place and functional memorial for American veterans. After having served as a city building, jail and library over the years, the building has suffered severe structural damage to the roof and the floors of the two-story building.

The reality is that the city doesn’t have the funds to restore the building, a project that could cost millions depending on the scope of the project. So that is where the grassroots revitalization effort comes in.

The Legion volunteers have put together a host of activities for the festival, which will shut down Railroad Street between Fourth and Fifth streets.

Entertainment includes a cornhole tournament, a 50-50 raffle and a variety of music set to start at 2 p.m. and last through the day.

The fun is free but volunteers hope to make money by selling Memorial Hall T-shirts, commemorative DVDs, veterans’ artwork and a variety of food and drinks.

We would like to see this building saved and once again contribute to the community — as long as the project is driven by volunteers and the community rather than taxpayer dollars from city coffers that certainly aren’t overflowing.

Now is time for citizens to put their money where their mouths are and show they want to save the hall.