Iowa Falls Times-Citizen 01/04/2012, Page A09 TIMES CITIZEN EDITORIAL
Of all the challenges we have met in Hardin County in the last 20 years, one will stand out as our proudest and boldest. The commitment to build a new hospital for the county is the strongest and wisest possible testament to our faith in the future. Just think of where we were 25 years ago. The farm crisis was at its very depth. The FDIC rolled down Washington Avenue one Friday afternoon and seized the Citizens State Bank in the largest rural bank failure to date.
Farmland Foods, then the area's largest private employer, shut its doors as the era of $20 per hour hog processing jobs permanently came to an end. The Met Theater was a dangerous and scary place to attend movies. J.C. Penney's closed downtown. The Wood's Hotel was a prominent eyesore.
Now, with some luck and a load of hard work, dedication and commitment, Iowa Falls and Hardin County stand stronger than ever, ready to face a bright future to compete for jobs in a global marketplace. In short, we have done our homework.
The Ellsworth Hospital project is both visionary and necessary. It is an outstanding example of a public-private partnership.
First, was the $20 million bond issue vote, which required a super majority of 60 percent. In this day and age, when trust of government at all levels is at an all-time low, it is unheard of for 60 percent of the electorate to agree on anything. We did. In addition to the bonding, this project would only work with a strong private financial commitment. Five million dollars in donations to be raised by the end of 2011 seemed nearly impossible. But the private sector, understanding the urgency, stepped in quickly and in a big way. With $5 million already pledged from 400 businesses and individuals and more donations coming in that can strengthen Ellsworth Hospital's endowment, reaching a goal like this is the same kind of commitment a handful of our visionary forefathers made.
We are certain Eugene Ellsworth, who left his name and mark on so many local institutions over a century ago, is smiling down on us today.