Guest Editorial

Monday, April 15, 2002

Coming in last again

ood news is swirling around Storm Lakers these days. Buena Vista University with its multi-million dollar challenge gift for a new science building and Buena Vista Regional Medical Center's successful $2 million local campaign are leading the way. One can add to that with the Methodist congregation's million-dollar remodeling program and new pipe organ. The "City Beautiful" has cause for rejoicing. We are on a roll!

More good news is waiting in the wings. On this list is Methodist Manor's announcement of plans for a new building, the committee for a civic and aquatic center reports that final plans are in sight, and the news that the Buena Vista Regional Medical Center Foundation is considering the gift of nine acres adjacent to the hospital's West Milwaukee Campus as the building site for the community aquatic center.

The community campaign calendar is still loaded. BV University has $4 million left to raise in meeting its challenge; Methodist Manor is talking about $2 million; the community aquatic center group is about $2 million; Faith, Hope & Charity and the Missouri Synod school have open-ended goals, all are on the campaign funding trail. We

celebrate what has been done and rejoice in our community's recognition of what remains to be done.

What about our old neighbor and best friend - our Lake? Is it coming in last again? Is its lot to accept what's left over in the way of crumbs from Storm Lakers' giving table? It is a special gift from God; a most important part of what makes our town "The City Beautiful." It is sick at this moment, endangered by a life threatening illness. Its symptoms are deep silt covering its 3,200 acre bottom, resulting in unsafe shallow water for boating and winter fish survival and muddy water when the wind blows.

Where does our long-time neighbor and friend turn for the kind of life saving help it desperately needs? Some feel the state is the answer. It is the legal owner. In these days of tight state budgets, DNR's planned dredging of 182 acres is only an aspirin treatment.

The lake preservation studies indicate 1,600 acres need to be dredged as soon as possible. DNR Director Vonk's recent statement that he supports a plan to dredge 200 acres a year for 10 years is good news. That alone will not cure our sick lake.

It is obvious our old faithful friend must turn to neighbors for support. The good news is the city council and county supervisors are providing an example by promising some of their limited resources. A basic fund raising rule is, "Users should be supporters." The power of their example can be as powerful as the power of their gifts. Two community institutions whose location on the lake is an advantage, BV University in securing students and Methodist Manor in securing retirees should consider heading up the list of the Lake's Friends.

IBP and Bil-Mar whose employees use and enjoy it could lend their support. The rest of us should fall in line; those with lakeshore homes, boaters, those who fish, bikers and walkers who enjoy the lakeshore trail, users of our beautiful lakeshore parks - including our churches and those who when they drive by the lake always turn their head for a look at its beauty.

A recent Methodist Manor commercial advises, "When we succeed so does our community." That statement is a two-way street. It also suggests, "When the Lake succeeds, so does Methodist Manor and BV University and every resident of 'The City Beautiful' and Buena Vista County." We can't afford to let our lake come in last in our concerns and commitments.

God Bless.