Ministry of Health project has ‘no impact’ on taxpayers
One Saturday a month, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War meet at the Memorial Opera House where they have met for nearly 130 years. Later, a LimeLights children’s class creates opportunities for students to build confidence and overcome anxiety. In the evening, a concert or musical performance brings together nearly 400 members of the community to celebrate.
This has always been the vision of the veterans organization which did not just want a monument to their service. “All we want is to find a place in the community and fill it in an acceptable way. We want to do something for our hometown rather than have the city do something for us,” resident James Drapier said in 1890.
At its best, MOH is a place that invites the public to honor history and form community. But in 2022, the building is collapsing beyond what quick fixes can fix. Without the proposed renovation project, it will cease to be the gathering place guaranteed ‘forever and perpetually’ by the county commissioners in 1893. That is why the Sons of Union Veterans overwhelmingly support the renovation and expansion proposal. of the MOH.
We are the board members of the Memorial Opera House Foundation, whose mission is to provide financial support so that the Department of Health can use the arts to build community. The Department of Health fully funds its own operations and programs through ticket revenue, grants, and direct support from the foundation. The county maintains the structure. If the MOH were to go out of business, the money it makes would no longer exist, but the county would still be responsible for the building.
The proposed funding for this $6.5 million project will have no impact on ratepayers and will be funded through a tax liability that is offset by investment income from the county foundation, the same process followed for other other recent projects. The longer our county leadership waits, the more expensive it becomes as the Department of Health deteriorates and material prices rise.
This investment will benefit our county’s economy through increased tourism dollars. The expansion will allow for diverse programming to meet the needs of the county’s increased population and create jobs. Additionally, research supports that the arts are valuable in supporting mental health initiatives and early childhood development. They are also integral to the culture of empathy at a time when division seems to be more appealing to some than creating positive solutions for the benefit of all.
Our board of directors fully supports this project so that it progresses rapidly. It is time for the Commissioners to do their duty to upgrade this asset and save it from its current state of disrepair. It’s time to do some good for our veterans by preserving the building for our community as they intended. It’s time to “fill it in an acceptable way,” safely and in celebration for present and future generations of Porter County.
Board of Directors of the Memorial Opera Foundation