Plans in the works for large Highway 12 reopening ceremony

September 8, 2008

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

A large celebration of making it through the recent Highway 12 road construction is being planned by city officials for Saturday, Oct. 26 at the site of the newly-constructed bridge.

While details are still in the works for it, tentative plans already include a children’s half-mile run beginning at 9 a.m. sponsored by the Delano Lions, a 5K run at 10 a.m., and ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. complete with the first crossings of the newly-constructed bridge.

Then at 11:15 a.m. that morning, a parade is set to take place with a grand marshal following behind the Delano American Legion Color Guard.

“The Highway 12 Task Force is the group that is going to designate the grand marshal through an auction,” commented task force co-chairperson Wendy Gilmer.

The auction will be a fundraiser for the task force, which in the past has created the Delano Open for Business slogan, created and distributed the Delano Restaurant Guide, created signage promoting local businesses, and also hosted the Taste of Delano event.

“We’ll be offering it to the highest bidder,” Gilmer said of the first trip across the bridge, adding the idea is that whoever is the highest bidder can do whatever they want with it – drive something unique across it, walk across it, or whatever they may come up with.

The task force also is coordinating the food for the event, which will feature local restaurants having food available. In addition to local fare, the event would also feature music/entertainment, games, and other community activities near the new bridge.

“This bridge signifies a bridging of one phase to phase two,” Gilmer said. “Celebrating our progress, and getting exposure to the businesses that have really stepped up to work together during this difficult time.”

A drawing will also take place at the celebration, where the task force, in conjunction with the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce, will be giving away a total of $500 in Delano Dollars. This is a drawing that will take place at 2 p.m., and participants must be present to win.

“We’re celebrating a historic moment for Delano,” Gilmer said. “This bridge opening is another example of showing pride in our community and coming out to support this major milestone in the history and future of this community.”

Task force looks ahead to phase two and beyond

Once the bridge across Highway 12 is reopened, the Highway 12 Task Force will continue to expand on the Delano Open for Business slogan.

Gilmer said the task force will continue to work to promote Delano businesses, including shopping locally, and also work to promote economic growth in Delano, including business expansion and attracting new business to Delano.

She said the task force will not only focus on construction-related issues, but also how the local business community can promote economic investment in Delano.

Looking forward to next year, she said the task force anticipates it will continue to provide a forum and resources for the community to band together and create momentum for businesses affected by Highway 12 construction.

“It builds a stronger business community and community as a whole,” she said, noting the second phase of construction will most likely affect the downtown businesses most significantly.

“The very positive thing that’s come out of this reconstruction– aside from an exceptional road and the beautification of Highway 12 – is that the local businesses have really banded together as a strong business community.”

Task force meetings changed to every other Tuesday

While the next Highway 12 Task force meeting will take place Wednesday, Sept. 17 at State Bank of Delano’s lower level meeting room at 9 a.m., future meetings will be every other Tuesday moving forward.

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