ELDORADO -- A crowd of more than 100 gathered Tuesday morning for the raising of the main construction beam of Ferrell Hospital's expansion project in Eldorado.
As the Eldorado High School band played "The Star-Spangled Banner," a construction crane hoisted the main beam, bearing signatures of members of the Eldorado community, into place.
State Sen. Dale Fowler, who was invited to speak by Ferrell Hospital CEO Alisa Coleman, said he wants to see more new large-scale construction projects in southern Illinois.
Recounting a conversation he had with other governmental leaders upon coming into office, Fowler said he learned at the time, more than 60 construction cranes were in operation in Chicago at that time, assembling large buildings.
"I said I'd like to see just one, at least, in my district," Fowler said. "And, now we've got one. I'm working on getting more."
Fowler also announced a state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant award to Eldorado for a new sidewalk project that will extend past the front of the hospital once the renovation and expansion is complete.
Eldorado Mayor Rocky James said he is ecstatic about what the Ferrell Hospital project means to his town.
"This is a great day for Eldorado, a great day for Saline County and a great day for southern Illinois," James said. "This will bring jobs to Eldorado, and it's going to have a positive economic effect on the whole area. The key to a great community is great schools and hospitals. This hospital will be even greater once this project is complete, and we have three great schools. We're going to move forward on that solid foundation."
City councilwoman Jan Rash agreed.
"It's been exciting watching the different stages of construction and thinking how wonderful this is for Eldorado and for the entire region," Rash said.