CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO - It was standing-room only at Creswell City Hall just after the Fourth of July incidents in 2021. The City Council heard community comments surrounding the Fourth of July parade, and City officials attempted to clarify misinformation about their role in the traditional event. Now, the council has created an ad hoc committee to discuss the past, current and future of the annual celebration.
CRESWELL — The ad hoc committee in Creswell is making headway to a tentative March town hall event to address the past, present and future of the Fourth of July events.
The point people for the traditional event were called to the last committee meeting to discuss their involvement in the town hall. Creswell Chamber president Bobby Ladley, Lane County Creswell Sheriff Scott Denham, and Joel Higdon, facility operations director for Creswell School District, have agreed that they will be part of the panel.
“There is value in demonstrating that the city, the council, the chamber, LCSO, and the school district are working together in partnership,” said Kevin Prociw, council president and committee member.
The committee wants to use the town hall to discuss rumors that spread during last year's event; provide fact sheets; share a timeline of last year’s event in contrast to that of the traditional events; and share information on how a parade is traditionally organized and planned by the Chamber. Prociw said it could also be an opportunity to generate interest for potential volunteers for the upcoming festivities.
Prociw said the goals are to keep a positive tone at the meeting and to address questions and concerns head-on.
“However, we don't want to dwell on the things that didn't go as well,” he said. “To that end, we talked again about getting a survey out soon that will help us to gather some of the questions in advance. In doing so, we can identify topic themes and be prepared to speak to those topics going on.”
The newly revived Chamber was unable to host the parade in light of Covid restrictions last year. Filling the void, community members planned the parade, but did not file for permits. What resulted were traffic and safety concerns, citations, and a clamor among community members and national, regional and local media for the presence of a hate group.
While the Chamber was unable to pull off the monumental task of hosting the parade that year, it did manage to pull off a firework display, but with burning effects. The school district was unable to host the firework display due to liability issues, and an alternate location, the old Bald Knob site, was used, which resulted in a fire after a dud firework landed in some blackberry bushes nearby.
It was not the type of day they want to see repeated.
This town hall has been a long time coming, having been a point of discussion among city council since its Aug. 9 meeting, often championed by councilor Alonzo Costilla. But 2021 was full of vicissitudes for the City; less than a week after the town hall discussion was broached, on Aug. 13, mayor Amy Knudsen resigned. By the end of the year, two other councilors, JoeRell Media and Jerri Hutchinson, had resigned.
“The turnover with the mayor last year is what put some of that work on pause,” Prociw said.
But 2022 — with a full council and a new (sort of) mayor, Dave Stram — the city is better poised to have this community conversation.
“So much time has passed, we wondered if people are still even interested in having this meeting,” Prociw said. “Even though a lot of time has passed, we want to keep that promise,” Prociw said.
The location and date have not been established, but are eyeing a date sometime in March. The committee is also looking into how it might live stream the event.
The next meeting is Thursday, Feb. 10, where a proposed timeline will be shared with committee members.