I have a way the politicos in Denver can make amends for Gov. Bill Ritter’s signing of House Bill 1317, which prohibits state agencies from selling or leasing land for the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site expansion, an act that sends the message that Colorado does not support the Army.
They can show support for the Mountain Post Historical Museum.
The governor and all the state’s senators and representatives need to band together and issue an enthusiastic, pro-museum proclamation with all the trumpeting and posturing they can muster.
Fort Carson is the only division headquarters in the United States without a museum.
Groundbreaking on a 5,000-square-foot, $750,000 home for Fort Carson memorabilia will be during the first quarter 2010.
All elected officials from Denver should come to Colorado Springs with flags flying in support of the Army, the state’s second largest employer.
It would be a good message to send to the Pentagon.
The idea for the museum has been bubbling for a decade and is the brainchild of retired Army Lt. Gen. Ed Soriano, the chairman and president of the Mountain Post Historical Association.
Soriano’s connections at the Pentagon and throughout the Army have gotten the project $9.2 million from the Army’s 2011 budget. The rest of the estimated $18 million cost will come from local fundraising.
Soriano envisions a museum with a community education component that will tell the story of the Army, and particularly the history of Fort Carson, to the area’s schoolchildren.
Ah, I can see the long line of yellow school buses lining up now.
Others, too, have visions.
Terry Sullivan, CEO of Experience Pikes Peak at Colorado Springs, sees a long line of tourists lining up.
He also foresees the addition of 40 local jobs, a tourism boost of an estimated 167,000 annual visitors with 75 percent from out of town and an increase in military reunions.
“Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will start holding reunions and the opening ceremonies for the reunions can be held at the Museum,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan also sees a tourism program called the triangle of honor: Sightseers start at the museum, travel to Canon City to see vintage military memorabilia, then go to Pueblo to see the exhibit on the four Medal of Honor winners. The completion of the triangle is the trip back to the Springs to put heads on pillows.
Let’s send a message to the Army. Let’s have residents lead a state effort in raising the money necessary for the project, let’s get a full slate of politicians and other leaders behind this effort, let’s make the Mountain Post Historical Museum the kind of attraction that not only benefits the business community, but also shows that local people have the spirit state big shots too often lack.
Lon Matejczyk is publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at Lon.Matejczyk@csbj.com or 329-5202.