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Metropolis Hope Light ready to shine, inspire

BY DAVID ZOELLER dzoeller@paducahsun.com

METROPOLIS, Ill. â “ Final assembly of the long-awaited Metropolis Hope Light was completed Wednesday at Dorothy Miller Park on the Ohio River.

The 30-foot-tall structure "is the only lighthouse in the world that is dedicated to the fight against cancer," said Rudy Bess, Hope Light Foundation director. "This will be a beacon of hope, because that's what lighthouses are all about."

Bess and his wife, Beverly, herself a cancer survivor, came up with the idea nine years ago after losing a family friend and relative to cancer. It's fitting that his wife was a catalyst for the project, Bess said.

"It's thanks to her," Bess said. "She knows how to fight cancer and win. And, she's definitely an inspiration for all the people who are cancer patients â “ and survivors."

The lighthouse will be visible for a five-mile radius, Bess said. The beacon is not meant to be a navigational light and efforts will be made to ensure the light does not interfere with river traffic, he said.

Funding for the approximately $45,000 project included Metropolis Area Tourism grant funds, donated construction work and materials, and other community support. Billy Carrell is the committee chairman.

"I'm so excited," said Carrell. "For Metropolis, this is the first lighthouse on the Ohio River ... and I think that's something."

The family of Dorothy Miller,  a victim of cancer, donated the park to the city after her death. The original site of the park was where Harrah's Metropolis Hotel & Casino now stands, according to Carrell.

"They (Harrah's officials) wanted to build a hotel there," Carrell said. "So they bought this property and built this (new) park and donated it to the city," Carrell said.

The Hope Light Project is a 501C-3 nonprofit public charity, dedicated to building cancer awareness and promoting early detection, Bess said. In addition, the foundation is selling commemorative bricks that will line the base of the lighthouse and its walkways. A single brick donation is $35, and a double, $70. More information is available at www.hopelightproject.com.

Contact David Zoeller, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.

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