HORIZONS- Would a casino really fit in Marion County?

During my short stay in Marion County over the Thanksgiving break, I was able to catch up on a lot of news, but two items jumped out at me.

Of course, the biggest item that jumped out at me was the casino issue. I’d like to offer my thoughts on this issue. I’m not trying to sway your vote one way or the other. I’m simply stating my opinion.

When I first heard that Marion County was in the running, I didn’t have any negative thoughts against the casino. Maybe I bit on Bob Knight’s bait, but I thought of all the money it would bring to the county. I mean, who could really argue with more jobs in a small county?

As I thought about it some more, reality began to set in. Yes, a casino/hotel/restaurant complex/whatever else it would be would surely help our economy in some way. If our goal was to bring people to Marion County, that would definitely happen.

My biggest issue with the casino issue isn’t dealing with the crime or corruption that may or may not come with it. My biggest issue is very simple. According to plans, this facility would be huge. It would have a multi-floor hotel, which would probably end up being one of the tallest buildings in Marion County. It would have a huge convention center and several restaurants.

Pardon me if I’ve misconstrued some facts, but you get my point; the place would be huge.

Knowing that, would it really fit in Marion County? Call me old-fashioned for a 20-year-old, but I’m kind of proud of the fact that the tallest structures in Marion County are feed mills and grain elevators.

In general, people in Marion County seem to love their little rural county. I know I do. I’m not sure I’d care to see a high-rise building on the horizon as I watch a sunset or sunrise.

Another issue I have with the facility deals with the jobs. At first I thought, “Wow, that’s awesome-more places for high school and college kids to work.”

Then it hit me. There’s no way businesses in any Marion County community would be able to keep up with the wages this place would offer. It would have the Wal-Mart effect on the county. Small, hometown businesses would die and this place would prosper.

The second news item that jumped out at me is what Marion’s school board is proposing. Marion has needed a new gym for a long time, that’s no secret. They’re also getting close to needing a new pool. The school board decided to kill both birds with the same stone and propose a new gym with an attached indoor pool.

One word: Brilliant!

Maybe it’s the timing, but it looks as if Marion is seeing Hillsboro’s new aquatic center as a challenge, and is rising to the occasion with a counter attack of its own.

I think the USD 408 school board deserves a standing ovation for this novel idea. What’s even more genius is that, if the proposal passes, the pool will be owned by the school district, which means free access to the pool for PE classes and even athletic workouts.

My mouth literally dropped when I heard about this idea. I had to read about it twice just to make sure I wasn’t misreading something.

I’m not a taxpayer in the Marion school district, but if I were, I would most definitely vote for this idea for the “quality of life” factor.

Should this issue pass, it will be very interesting to see what type of competition springs up for the Hillsboro Aquatic Center.

The way I see it, the quality of life in Marion County appears to be improving each day, and that is what our citizens should be most proud of. I’ve always been one who would much rather be happy than rich. I’d rather attract people to our county with our quality of life, rather than with one controversial attraction.

When the casino issue ballots reach your mailbox in the next week or so, please uphold your civic responsibility: vote. When you vote, however, consider the quality of life we live as small communities in Marion County.

As Christmas and a new year approaches, enjoy all the football games, but please also remember who got you out of working as well. Remember the reason for this season!

Happy holidays!

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