Centennial commission begins planning for Bexleys 100th birthda

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The Bexley Centennial Commission will be coordinating celebrations of the city’s 100th birthday next year, and is working on a short calendar to pull all the elements together for a memorable 12 months.

The commission, made up of volunteers and representatives of community organizations and institutions, met for the first time Dec. 10 to get the ball rolling.

Longtime residents Tom Hill and Jenny Walsh were elected chair and co-chair of the commission.

Other participants included representatives of Capital University, St. Charles Preparatory School, Columbus School for Girls, Bexley Historical Society, Bexley Celebrations Association, Bexley City Schools, Bexley Women’s Club and the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce.

Many of the organizations are planning major events for 2008, such as the Women’s Club’s home and garden tour and the BCA’s Fourth of July festivities with its theme "Celebrating 100 Years of Celebrations."

City Councilman and commission member Matt Lampke believes the group can be an umbrella organization to bring all the elements of the community together.

Scheduled events can be modified to reflect the centennial theme, Lampke offered.

Anne Lewis, chair of the BCA’s Fourth of July events, thinks that this would be a great opportunity to highlight the city’s heritage, particularly with the parade.

She wants to get more people involved in building floats for the parade and to make it easier for them to participate.

Walsh suggested that groups of graduates from educational institutions could be encouraged to ride in the parade, and Hill added that representatives from every graduating class of Bexley High School could take part, as well.

One decision that will have to be made is whether Bexley wants a series of small events to recognize its milestone, or a few big happenings.

Lampke noted that Grandview mounted "100 Days of Celebration" for its centennial, and he has requested information and materials to determine if this is something Bexley wants to emulate.

Bexley school board member Joan Fishel sees numerous opportunities for students to contribute, such as essay contests or "100 Good Deeds" civic projects.

"We could start building some excitement where the schools could help," Fishel said.

She will be meeting with the PTO Council and soliciting ideas for the celebration that she will bring back to the next centennial commission meeting.

A time capsule could be one way of preserving Bexley’s history, Lampke suggested.

Sam Shamansky, representing the Bexley Library Board of Trustees, suggested that students be enlisted to video tape oral histories of longtime residents.

Banners highlighting local landmarks and citizens along Main Street was another idea floated among the commission.

Mark Cooper, associate vice president of public relations at Capital, reported that the university had no plans for a centennial celebration at this time, but he offered facilities for scheduled activities.

The campus plaza along the recently closed Mound Street would make an ideal location for an outdoor event, Cooper pointed out.

Leo Iannarino, the St. Charles representative and a third-generation Bexley resident, also offered the school’s facilities, as well.

The need for a budget was also raised.

The city has not budgeted for the centennial, Lampke said. Ed Nyhan, outgoing president of the chamber of commerce, also reported that his group has yet to earmark funds.

The commission members conceded that some money will be needed, and a fundraising chair will be designated.

Residents will be invited to offer their suggestions, as well as their time, for the centennial celebration through the city’s web site.

The next meetings of the commission will be Jan. 14 and 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Jeffrey Mansion.

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