Our Opinion: A well-intentioned mistake

Monday, June 5, 2006

Some Cherokee city officials, past and present, breathed a huge sigh of relief when the home at 863 Amber Drive was sold and money borrowed for the project was repaid.

Construction of the house was a joint effort of Washington High School, Western Iowa Tech Community College and the city of Cherokee. It was started in the fall of 2003 and completed in the spring of 2004.

The idea was to get a construction trades program started that would eventually become self-supporting. The program needed seed money that would supposedly be paid back after the house was sold, supposedly immediately after it was built.

The problem was that the house was not immediately sold after it was built. It was nearly two years after completion of the house before the house was sold.

The seed money was borrowed from the George Bacon Estate fund that was left specifically for the Parks and Rec Department of the city.

This diversion of funds would have been inappropriate even if repaid back in 2004.

This inappropriate use of Bacon Estate funds had some people quietly fuming. They were quiet primarily because the good will of the city was still needed since the major project for which Bacon Estate funds would be used was the Aquatic Center.

The Chronicle Times did not want to elevate the small, quiet scandal into something larger because everybody involved in the fund diversion had their hearts in the right place.

So why are we raising the subject now? The subject is not as sensitive now that the Bacon Estate has been reimbursed with a modest 3 percent interest fee, but many people would still like to regard the incident as water under the bridge, something to be forgotten.

The problem with forgetting mistakes is that they are often repeated. Also, the quiet scandal passed by word of mouth can grow over the years into something that has no resemblance to the truth.

Before we move on from this incident we need to publicly acknowledge that it happened.