Tunnel vandals deserve good scare

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 5, 2011

“Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race.”

The British politician William E. Gladstone may be long dead but his famous quote aptly describes the actions of the individual or individuals who vandalized a project and robbed an organization that does so much good for the community.

I was saddened when I heard the news that the historic State Route 75 tunnel, maintained by the Ironton Lions Club of which I am a member, was burglarized and vandalized.

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If the historic element wasn’t important enough, this tunnel is so much more than that.

Every October the Lions members and other volunteers transform this 200-foot passage through the U.S. 52 hillside into the Haunted Tunnel, the scariest Halloween attraction in the area.

Thousands of people visit each year to get their hearts racing and walk away with a good scare.

But, this project that takes hundreds of work hours and lots of sweat equity by club members isn’t just for entertainment.

All the money raised at the tunnel goes right back into the community, funding countless civic projects and charitable causes.

Organizations like Ironton In Bloom, the City Welfare Mission, the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade Committee and many others look toward the Lions Club for support each year.

And this tunnel helps some individuals with specific needs to “see” things in a whole new way.

In keeping with Lions International’s focus on sight, every few years the club takes the revenue generated and sponsors a seeing-eye dog for an individual who is vision impaired.

Each dog costs more than $8,000 but when you actually see how these animals improve the quality of life for their owners, it becomes clear that every penny is well spent.

Now, because a group of idiots decided they needed to vent some frustration over their sad lives or grab the few extra dollars the items stolen will generate, the club will have a difficult time getting the tunnel ready for another year.

Although I haven’t spoken to the club’s leadership about this, I’m confident we will overcome this hurdle. Still, it is disappointing because the estimated $15,000 to $20,000 in repairs is money that could have been helping the community.

During the season the tunnel may be filled with ghosts and goblins, but the real monsters are the ones who live outside it.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.