Marshall Community Engagement Group Discusses Tree Lighting Challenge

April 11, 2019

Cathy Kozlowicz

The Courier

At the one-year anniversary meeting of Marshall’s Community Engagement Committee, the members discussed organizing a December tree lighting challenge.

This group, which consists of stakeholders including community members, civic leaders and village business owners, began meeting a year ago to support each other’s agencies and businesses. The objective is to have everyone on the same page as the village continues its path towards economic development. One of the goals is to enhance existing community programs and events. They meet 6:30 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at rotating locations.

The members agreed to enhance the Santa Claus at the Fire Station and the Love Light Tree lighting events, organized by the Marshall Volunteer Fire Department, the Lion’s Club and the Marshall Area Business Association (MABA), by having a community Christmas tree lighting challenge.

“We are targeting a holiday lighting event in the community,” Village Administrator Adam Ruechel said. He said that having this challenge can publicize other December events. It was proposed that there would be four categories of winners for both businesses and residences to compete in and there would be a registration process with a small entry fee. There would be a prize for the winners.

“We just want the community to feel festive,” vice president of the Marshall school board, Deb Frigo said. She also said that other organizations can do their events or fundraisers during that time and that there could be a travelling voting box at those events.

One of the issues the community members identified is that for many events, it is the same people doing the manpower, which is leading to some burnout. The committee members talked about how the Marshall Mad Dash to benefit the Marshall Scholarship Foundation tags on with the Lion’s Club Riverfest and Steak & Lobster Dinner to be successful.

“I noticed when I came here that we are all doing separate things, and then it gets hard,” Ruechel said

“We don’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” he said. The members said that while there is a line to visit Santa, they thought of doing activities for the kids and families while they wait.

“The line does move quickly,” Ryan Chadwick, representing the Marshall Fire Department pointed out. He said that something that ballooning or face painting would be good activity for the families while they wait for Santa.

“Even if it is something simple like coloring stations. One thing I noticed (about the Christmas event) is that it is starting to grow. That is awesome,” community member Christie Eilders said.

The committee members also discussed adding the Marshall High School chamber choir to the event to sing holiday songs. Chadwick thought the balcony would be a good place for acoustic reasons.

“If the kids see it, they may see how cool it (the chamber choir) is,” Marshall Community Library Director Callie Armstrong said.

“What would be the multicultural component? How can we enhance our Latino group?” Marshall School District Administrator Dan Grady asked.

“That is a population that is underrepresented in our town. We need to showcase it in different ways. How can we do that better?” Eilders said.

Village Trustee Scott Michalak said that one of the Lutheran churches had a Spanish band where they sang carols in Spanish. The committee members will look into these issues and continue discussing them at their next meeting May 2.

He also said that one idea for fundraising is Marshall bucks, which is a coupon book for discounts to many local businesses. “Many organizations use to fundraise off that. I like that I not only saved money, but there are some businesses I did not know even existed,” Michalak said.

The group also discussed the future of Stuff the Bus, an event where 40 district families were served last year.

Eilders said that the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) would like to step down from being the main organizer. “I think we can take it on. I want to make sure that the integrity is not lost,” she said.

“I would love to see this tradition enhanced. Maybe we can help 60, 80 or 100 kids. We can help more students be successful the first day,” she added.

Frigo said she thought the goal of the community engagement group was to coordinate the events, but to not actually sponsor them. Frigo said this would be a great opportunity for the MC4Kids, a community-sponsored group that provided referendum information to the residents this year.

Eilders also said that the Lion’s Club seemed willing to help.

“The Lion’s Club is a huge part of this,” Eilders said. “They donate a lot of money and a lot of the supplies. They can be a sponsor.” The group said that the PTA would probably be willing to have a role with the other supporting organization.

“I think we need the momentum to continue,” Frigo added. Grady said that partnering with the EMS is also a great idea as they donate a lot of food and school supplies to the district. “Another component (to Stuff the Bus) could be clothing,” Grady said.

Terry Bradshaw, who represented MC4Kids, said he will talk to the group to see what role they can take for leading, sponsoring or participating in Stuff the Bus.

The next community engagement meeting will be Thursday, May 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the elementary school boardroom.

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