Between the Lines by David Lias "I think there are opportunities that are available to us. All of us, in our own way, through our own businesses and our own community service can honor Bill's memory and sustain a legacy that I think he helped develop here for making Vermillion a great place to live, work and raise a family."
Those are the words of John Paulson, administrator of the Sioux Valley Vermillion Campus, and president of the Vermillion Development Company, Wednesday morning after the community learned of the death of Mayor William Radigan.
We urge our readers to closely examine the story of the extraordinary life of this extraordinary Vermillion man on the front page. We talked to a number of people who knew the mayor well.
We didn't gather them together in a large room and converse with them all at once. We held individual conversations with each one of them.
And by the end of the day Wednesday, we had no doubt that Radigan has had an incredible influence over the Vermillion community.
Just read the story, and notice how people couldn't help but describe the impact the mayor has had on the city in similar terms. Countless times, we heard people utter the words dedication, perseverance, character, personality, quality, integrity ? the list of glowing terms could easily fill this column.
It's no surprise that everyone we've talked with told us the mayor's death represents more than a loss to the community. The loss of Radigan also means, to so many people, the loss of a close personal friend.
Paulson believes it is important for citizens to honor Radigan by simply trying to continue what he had done in his unique, selfless manner for so many years.
"What we need to do is honor him and work on continuing the legacy that he has given us by trying to do what's best for Vermillion," he said.
Moments after Paulson talked with us, Alderman Barbara Yelverton, in expressing the sense of loss she was feeling, noted that she wished that Radigan could have seen the completion of the city's new fire and rescue facility.
It's no secret that this newspaper and other members of the community didn't see eye-to-eye with the mayor on this issue. The facility was the topic of heated debate last summer, both in the city council meeting chamber and in the Plain Talk.
People who knew the mayor well knew that he was dedicated to progress. Those who disagreed with him quickly learned that he would, with the utmost character and ethics, do whatever was needed to accomplish what he felt would in the long run best benefit the city he loved.
Because of that commitment, a bridge is being built across the Missouri River to connect Vermillion with Newcastle, NE.
Because of that commitment, workers are making progress on the new fire station.
Because of that commitment, meetings were quickly organized to help deal with a potential crisis when Gateway announced its lay-offs of nearly 400 people earlier this year.
Because of that commitment, a beautiful memorial to Clay County's veterans now proudly stands on the grounds of the courthouse.
Because of that commitment, Vermillion can proudly boast of one of the finest golf courses and housing developments in the state.
How in the world can we even come close to honoring a man who played a key role in the development of that which we hold so dear in this community?
We only had time to make a few quick phone calls and lightly skim through past issues of the Plain Talk to take a quick refresher course on the life and times of Bill Radigan. We came across a story written in 1996 that includes a photo of a beaming Doug Brunick and Rollie Isaacson of the Vermillion Fire Department presenting the mayor with a bronze fireman's axe in celebration of his 50 years of service to the department.
It seems only fitting that the community go one step further. The new fire station, when completed, should bear Radigan's name.
It's the least we can do.