Dear Hiawatha,

I’m jealous. The Holton community has now raised nearly 2 million dollars for their hospital. So why can’t we do that here in Hiawatha?

With the election behind us, a financial situation with the Hiawatha Community Hospital still exists. The way our community resolves those issues will define who we are for the generations to come.

I’m proud to say Hiawatha is an extremely generous community when it comes to giving. A few years ago, $200,000 was raised to build a concession stand at the high school football field. That’s right, a concession stand!

Hiawatha Community Hospital was originally built by donations from Hiawatha community stakeholders. The Surgery Center was built with donations stimulated by tax credits. In hindsight, the Family Practice expansion was railroaded right across Utah Street with too much debt and not enough donations. That debt is now hanging around HCH’s neck.

We are at a crossroads. The vote was close and some feel it deserves to go back on the ballot once again. However, it’s worth noting that a second vote will also meet an organized opposition the next time around.

And do we really want to put ourselves through another divisive election? After the last election I was cussed out at a girls softball game. Some of you may be laughing at that, but do we honestly want to continue being viewed as a community with such little class?

Rather, I propose we go with an approach that has been proven successful time and time again. The past election showed just how much support HCH has in the Hiawatha area. Why not measure that support in dollars? If every person that voted “yes” in the last election would back up that vote with a $500 donation, over a half million dollars would be quickly raised.

Our healthcare providers need to step up with their own donations to follow Dr. Conrad’s example and preserve a legacy for the doctors that will serve Hiawatha in the future. A wise Hiawatha mother often told her children “To those who much is given, much is expected.” Truer words were never spoken.

If the HCH Board of Directors will agree to not pursue another tax initiative ballot and choose a community fundraising project instead, I’m willing to pledge to HCH the first 100 bushels of corn I deliver to Ag Partners this fall. I would also challenge other area farmers to do the same, or even more if they are able.

The real beauty of a fundraising approach? The money given to the hospital isn’t a’s a tax deduction. Sweet!

Imagine how much more enjoyable 29 fundraising events like “Denim and Diamonds” would be rather than the 29 often contentious informational meetings held throughout the county. It’s time to rally our community together with fundraising efforts rather than continuing to tear us apart with tax proposals.

— John Wright,

Brown County resident, White Cloud

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