Quick Takes Editorial: Getting wired for 2022, with clear vision

Columbus’ Crump Theatre on Dec. 13.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

Getting wired for 2022, with clear vision

As we begin 2022, Columbus and Bartholomew County are poised to make great strides forward in numerous ways. A giant step many want yesterday is broadband internet availability extended to virtually every household in rural Bartholomew County.

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the county has $4 million in federal money to invest in that project, and county commissioners recently received bids from Meridiam Infrastructure North America Corp., and AT&T Internet Services. Afterward, Bartholomew County attorney Grant Tucker said, “I’m not going to read them because it’s like reading Chinese to me.” You’re smart to acknowledge you don’t know something, so commissioners wisely sought expert advice.

They turned to Scott Rudd, CEO of Rudd Consulting LLC of Nashville, to examine the two lengthy and highly technical proposals and make recommendations. For no more than $10,000, the county will get professional services and guidance from Rudd, whose experience includes serving as director of broadband opportunities in the Indiana Secretary of State’s office and as a member of the broadband deployment advisory committee for the Federal Communications Commission.

That is a wise investment, and ten grand for such expertise is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. The community is best served by moving forward deliberately, confidently, competently, and with due diligence. On extending the reach of broadband, county commissioners are doing so.

Crump restoration dreams must put safety first

A community’s romance surrounding its landmark theaters is understandably seductive. Columbus’ Crump Theater has wooed many a starry-eyed suitor smitten by its historic charms. But ultimately, those courtships have gone cold in the harsh light of how much time, effort and money the commitment would take.

That has been the Crump’s recent history. Many have tried but none have succeeded in rescuing the hulking and wanting 1889 structure for its next act. The latest effort, showcased in The Republic on Dec. 27, has been met with optimism and skepticism. There is sincere hope for really doing it this time, but even organizers realize people can be forgiven for feeling like they’ve seen this movie before.

Organizers’ hopes of getting the building open to rally the support — and crucially, the money — to restore an icon of Columbus’ landscape is understandable. However, the Crump will need many millions of dollars to be a safe and modern venue. Not quite a decade ago, the Columbus Fire Department ordered the Crump closed because it was deemed unsafe. The estimated costs of necessary health and safety upgrades at that time began at $12 million.

We would love to see the Crump restored, but safety must come first. Short of a knight in shining armor riding in with a blank check, it will take an organized community effort and years of slow and steady work and fundraising to save the Crump from the final curtain.

Cheers to charities that made season bright

We can’t begin a new year without recognizing the many local charities that, despite many challenges, delivered on their mission of providing for those in need during the holidays.

The Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund, Shop With a Cop, Toys for Tots, Love Chapel and countless other charitable groups and organizations made their limited dollars stretch to buy gifts for children and provide meals for families that otherwise might have gone without. We’re blessed to have so many caring people who go the extra mile to help.

But none of that is possible without the gifts of individuals who give what they can — and sometimes even more than they can — to help their fellow man. It’s inspiring.

Let’s begin 2022 on that note and try to keep that spirit alive all year long.