15 Sep 2014
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Richmond Heights Centennial Planning Begins

The city's historical society is planning tours and a speaker series for 2013, while others are working on a large celebration paired with monthly events.

Richmond Heights Centennial Planning Begins Richmond Heights Centennial Planning Begins Richmond Heights Centennial Planning Begins

One large party, accompanied by a variety of monthly events, will serve as the cornerstone of 100th anniversary celebrations next year in . Festivities likely would include a parade, carnival rides and music.

That consensus came Thursday at during a centennial brainstorming session that included residents, city staff and elected officials. District 2 City Councilman Mike Jones is leading the effort and moderated the discussion.

"We want to do it right," Jones said during his introduction.

Historical society and library form partnership
Vice President JoEllen Gamp McDonald of the Richmond Heights Historical Society told the audience that she has been coordinating centennial events with library director Jeanette Piquet and adult services librarian Scott Bonner, both of the .

They have identified a person who conducts walking and coach tours, someone who for the last three years has been compiling the city's history through interviews with residents. She would use that material, a book McDonald co-authored and other resources to develop the centennial tours.

A separate, 2 1/2-hour tour focusing on the city's ties to the Civil War also is in the works. Among notable history: Several people who had once been slaves were interviewed in the 1930s in Richmond Heights as part of a Work Projects Administration effort, McDonald said. It is hoped that the content of those interviews can be reprinted and made available to people. 

The two groups also are looking at co-sponsoring a history speakers series that would be held throughout 2013.

St. Louis County historian is willing to work on presentations that deal with the city's earliest history, including the stories of original landowners.

In honor of the anniversary, the historical society's logo will be updated to reflect a centennial message.

Citizen-city partnership envisioned to pay for events
McDonald, the historical society official, said she's not sure whether the city wants to offer no-cost centennial events or offer a small honorarium to speakers.

"To me, that's really where the people who are organizing it need to begin," McDonald said. "Where are the financial resources, how do we figure out where that money goes?"

City Manager Amy Hamilton said the assumption has been that the city will finance the centennial. It will determine what to fund based on recommendations of the planning committee. She also suggested some events might be paid for both with fees and city financing.

"We do want it to be a celebration," Mayor James Beck said. "So I do think the council is going to support this very well."

Jones said several groups such as the 's Police and Community Together (P.A.C.T.) Unit and the city's public works department are "great fundraisers" whose knowledge could be beneficial.

At the same time, attendees stressed the need to coordinate fundraising to avoid pressuring retailers already challenged by a down economy.

Veterans gazebo update provided
City Attorney Kenneth Heinz is leading an near The Heights.

He said the idea began 10 years ago with the Mid-St. Louis County Rotary Club, which later disbanded because of declining membership. The club spent money to have about five design proposals drafted.

Now, an informal committee of roughly six people is working to get a rendering prepared. It hopes to fund the project through citizen donations and a parks grant. Under one proposal, residents could purchase a flagstone with the name of a relative who served in the military.

The goal is to complete construction of the gazebo in 2013, perhaps in time to dedicate it on Veterans Day, Heinz said.

Communication identified as key challenge
Numerous attendees on Thursday identified communication with residents as a primary challenge in spreading the word about the centennial.

Jones said he would talk about the centennial through regular emails to constituents and in the Neighborhood Watch meetings he attends in his district.

Other venues to be used include the city's newsletter and website, Charter cable, the newsletter and Facebook page of The Heights, and church bulletins.

Signs that are the size of the message board outside of City Hall will be created and placed around town to let people know about centennial planning efforts and invite them to participate.

Beck also pointed out that large signs are authorized for several highly visible buildings in the city.

Next steps
Upcoming centennial planning meetings are tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month at The Heights.

A series of committees will be developed in the near future and tasked with organizing various components of the big celebration and monthly events.

At the suggestion of one attendee Thursday, the city's parks department is expected to mobilize its two shuttle buses to transport residents who would not otherwise be able to attend the discussions.

In the meantime, Hamilton and Clayton City Manager Craig Owens are expected to meet about scheduling so events are not held at conflicting times. next year.

The next Richmond Heights meeting has been .

List of ideas
An array of centennial proposals were offered Thursday:

  • Business directory describing the history of various local institutions and companies (perhaps in cooperation with the )
  • Monthly themes (e.g. women business owners, celebrity homecoming)
  • Funnel popular aspects of monthly celebrations into main event
  • Include historic vehicles in Tons of Transportation event
  • Variety of local food vendors for events
  • Audio history booth at The Heights to gather residents' memories of city
  • Time capsule with photos of residents and their addresses
  • Bicycling event
  • 5K run
  • Walking challenge
  • Home decorating contest
  • Reenactments
  • World's Fair group tie-in
  • Paint a Metro bus with centennial theme
  • Historic police and fire vehicles for
  • Youth talent show
  • Birthday cake
  • Fireworks display

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