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A lasting impact

Madison Bicentennial seeks ideas
for $250,000 Legacy Gift grant

So far three entries
have been received for consideration

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(November 2008) – Madison, Ind.’s Broadway Fountain has become an enduring symbol of the city. Throughout the years, countless community and private events have been held around the monument. Dedicated in 1886, the fountain was a legacy gift presented to the city during its 100th birthday celebration.

Madison Bicentennial Logo

Now the Madison Bicentennial Celebration Committee is hoping to present a lifetime Legacy Gift of its own to the city. Proposals are being sought, and approximately $250,000 has been earmarked for the Legacy Gift. The deadline for such projects has been extended to Jan. 9. Madison will celebrate its Bicentennial throughout 2009 with an extensive list of events and festivities.
“The Legacy Gift is a permanent addition to the city; it can take the form of virtually any kind of project,” said Joe Carr, chairman of the Legacy Gift subcommittee of the Madison Bicentennial Celebration Committee. “The project does need to be tangible, a symbol of Madison and its heritage, highly visible and widely supported by the community.”
The Legacy Gift proposals should reflect some aspect of the rich heritage of Madison, Carr added. Potential subjects can include hydroplane racing, the Underground Railroad, architecture, the Ohio River with steamboats and keel boats, Native Americans, railroading, and a whole host of other topics, according to Carr. Artists are also encouraged to submit ideas.
“Proposals can build on these themes and point ahead as well,” he said. “Organizations and individuals need to think long term; just as the Broadway Fountain is an enduring symbol of Madison, so can this proposal become an enduring symbol for the next century.”
Jan Vetrhus, chairperson of the Madison Bicentennial Celebration Committee, said funds have already been earmarked for the Legacy Gift, and plans are under way to raise the rest of the amount needed for the event. A Bicentennial Ball is planned for spring 2009 to help raise money for the project. “We are very excited about this gift,” she said. “Our goal for the bicentennial is to have a great party and leave a great gift.”
Already several proposals have been presented as possible Legacy Gift Projects. One project will include a historic bridge reconstructed over Crooked Creek with a viewing area that will allow hikers on the Heritage Trail of Madison to enjoy a panoramic view of the area.

Jan Vethrus

Jan Vetrhus

Tom Pritchard, president of the Heritage Trail of Madison, said the proposal would be a good gift to the community because of its historic value. “The bridge itself is a historic treasure,” he said. “It would be another icon rich in historical value for the city.”
Another proposal is to create a memorial tribute to Irene Dunne, the Hollywood star who grew up in Madison. Dunne, known as the “First Lady of Hollywood,” had 22-year film career spanning the 1930s and 1940s, starring in more than 40 movies. She was nominated five times for an Academy Award as Best Actress but never won.
“She is one of the most famous people ever to live in Madison,” said Amy Christner, president of the Irene Dunne Society. “Honoring her by naming a park after her or establishing a theater in her honor would be a wonderful legacy to leave to the city.” Christner is working out the details of her proposed project.
Community volunteer and enthusiast Bob Greene has presented a proposal that will tie the history of Madison to future economic opportunities.
His “River Cliff Park” project will save and open to the public 10 undeveloped acres along Madison’s western riverfront. That area will be the primary building block for “River Cliff Park,” which will eventually extend up the Madison Railroad incline and include the Heritage Trail of Madison and the historic “cat steps” going up to the Madison State Hospital. The park will connect the Madison Riverwalk Project that runs along Vaughn Drive to the Heritage Trail of Madison and the other historic trails being developed in the area. An education center to explain the interrelations of river life and the railroad is part of the future plans for the park.
“River Cliff Park has both real economic and recreational value,” he said. “When completely finished, it will be an interactive site that will draw visitors from across the country.”
Greene played an instrumental role in clearing the land of debris and trash to help connect the hilltop portion of the Heritage Trail to the riverfront portion. He has also worked diligently for months on clearing debris from the historic railroad incline. He has garnered much support from around the community for his work on the various projects.

• For more information about the Legacy Gift Project, contact Joe Carr at (812) 265-2335 or visit: www.madisonbicentennial.com.

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