Whitehall News

Three residents join city's July Fourth committee

Group, soon to be 10 members, will search for new way to celebrate Independence Day in Whitehall

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Whitehall City Council has selected three residents to serve on a 10-member task force charged with developing alternate entertainment for the city's Fourth of July celebration next year.

The Whitehall Community Celebration Association is expected to name two additional members after the Monday, Sept. 8, meeting of the WCCA, said President Leo Knoblauch.

Those five members will join five selected members of the administration to suggest an alternative to the city's carnival, a solution Mayor Kim Maggard said she wants known by the end of next month.

Council President Jim Graham said council has named Jerry Brooks, Paul Werther and Blythe Wood to the task force.

Werther is a past candidate for City Council; Wood is a current member of the Whitehall school board. Brooks attempted to run for council last year but filed an invalid petition.

The five city staff members of the task force are Auditor Dan Miller, Parks and Recreation Director Steve Carr, Police Chief Richard Zitzke, Fire Chief Preston Moore and Community Affairs Coordinator Gail Martineau.

Maggard announced last month the city no longer would stage a carnival on the same night at the city's fireworks display.

In the past, Bishop Park has hosted a carnival -- often a three- or four-day event -- through the day of the fireworks.

But after the detainment of 27 people and the arrest of 10 people at the park July 3, Maggard, with the support of the fire and police chiefs, determined the city cannot safely combine the carnival and the fireworks on the same day.

Several officers sustained minor injuries and the start of the fireworks show was delayed as patrons fleeing from fighting teenagers breached a fireworks perimeter, city officials said.

Maggard said she is not opposed to a carnival remaining at Bishop Park, but it would have to close July 2.

She said the city's fireworks will remain on July 3 next year.

Although it makes Whitehall virtually the only suburban city with a fireworks show opposite Red, White & Boom in Columbus, Maggard said doing so provides Whitehall two advantages: It deters "troublemakers" from coming to Whitehall's show; and it saves the city money because the additional police officers needed at the park are not paid overtime on the July Fourth holiday.

The city saves about $15,000 in personnel costs having the show July 3 rather than July 4, Maggard said.

Knoblauch said Cincinnati-based Murray Rides, which has provided the carnival's concessions, games and rides for about 15 years, indicated to him that the final day of the carnival -- the day of the fireworks -- is its best money-maker.

Murray Rides could not be reached for comment concerning whether the company would consider remaining the city's provider if it is not allowed to set up shop July 3.

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