Ground was broken Friday to begin the installation of the Metropolis Lighthouse (Hope Light) — the first project of the Hope Light Foundation.
For seven years, the placement of a lighthouse on the Ohio River in their hometown has been the dream of Rudy and Beverly Bess, who established the Hope Light Foundation as a 501c3 non-profit public charity in 2005. Originally from Metropolis, the couple now lives in Hazelwood, Mo. The foundation’s goal is help communicate awareness of cancer signs and symptoms in order to increase early cancer detection and survivorship.
To the Besses — Beverly has been a survivor since 1983 — and Metropolis Hope Light Project (MHLP) committee members, even getting to this stage has been a long road since Bess first approached the Metropolis City Council about building a lighthouse on the banks of the Ohio River. But with renewed vigor in the project, they are determined to see it done this year — as soon as mid-November.
The conical shape of the lighthouse and its lantern room are currently sitting at Parker Custom Machine Shop in Metropolis. The lantern room just needs the ventilator ball before both pieces, joined by a day mark band, are placed together and then painted before being placed sideways for transporting by Childers Excavating Inc. from the shop to Dorothy Miller Park — almost 5 miles.
“That’ll be interesting to see. You don’t see a lighthouse going down the road every day,” said Matt Parker, the shop’s owner.
The first lighthouse in the United States dedicated to cancer, the Metropolis Lighthouse (Hope Light) — the structure’s official name — will be 30 feet high with a conical shaped, steel sided, white tower beneath a 2-foot teal daymark band — representing the fight against ovarian cancer — and a black painted open lantern room with an ML-155 marine lantern projecting a non-flashing white light that can only be seen at night on the land side of the park. The lantern room is topped by a black hexagonal cupola with a ventilator ball and lightning rod.
It will all be attached to a rebar structure that will be set in hole that’s 14 feet wide by 14 feet long and 4 feet deep. Shelby’s Excavating provided the excavating work, which will be filled with cement donated by Lafarge that will be mixed into concrete by Kotter’s Ready Mix.
The lighthouse is to be “beacon of hope” providing cancer patients, cancer survivors and their family and friends a peaceful and quiet place to meditate. Locally, the project is overseen by MHLP, an entity of the Hope Light Foundation. Land for the project was provided at no cost to the foundation by the City of Metropolis. Because the lighthouse will be located on city property, MHLP and the City of Metropolis will be entering into an intergovernmental agreement. Once the lighthouse is constructed, MHLP will turn it over to the city but will continue to fund its maintenance costs through donations to the organization. Design of the project was provided at no cost by Eggemeyer Associates Architects of Carbondale. Construction of the Metropolis Lighthouse (Hope Light) is by Parker Custom Machine Shop with the expected $42,000 cost being paid by MHLP.
Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Metropolis Area Tourism Commission, “we have the money to build the lighthouse, but we don’t have all the bricks sold,” said Carrell, MHLP chairman, noting 800 more bricks are needed.
The tower base will be encircled by an 8-foot wide concrete walkway inlaid with over 900 personalized red bricks. Bricks, measuring 4 inches by 4 inches, are $35 for three lines with 12 characters per line. Also available are 8-by-8-inch bricks suitable for company or organizational logos for $100.
Order forms are available at Metropolis City Hall, City National Bank, www.hopelightproject.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/MetropolisHopeLight. Donations are also accepted at City National Bank where the Metropolis Hope Light Project account is established.
Upon its completion, Bess said the lighthouse will be advertised as the National Hope Light because “there is no other. This is the first and only.” He expects it to become a major year-round tourist attraction for the city.
Already available are information sites called Cancer Corners. The first was established in 2009 at the Metropolis Public Library. Now, 14 Cancer Corners have been established in four states — Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri.
Located in libraries, health departments, hospitals and university student centers, the Cancer Corner provides access to cancer information from a variety of sources, aiding to the Hope Light Foundation’s mission of saving lives through knowledge.