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Crocker seeks public input to revitalize Railroad Days festival
CROCKER, Mo. (Feb. 9, 2009) — Community leaders in Crocker are planning to revitalize Railroad Days, an annual festival on Labor Day weekend that has fallen on hard times in recent years.

Park Board Chairman Richard Uherka said at Monday night’s city council meeting that his board discussed the event and wants to meet with the Crocker Chamber of Commerce board to discuss how Railroad Days will work this year.

Mayor Jim Morgan said the Crocker Chamber of Commerce’s next board meeting will be held on Feb. 17 and Uherka said he’ll arrange for park board members to attend. That meeting is important, Morgan said, since many important decisions must be made soon about the future of Railroad Days.

“We talked about what we are going to do and we talked about having some churches come out and maybe doing some things and where we’re going to have it. We talked about maybe moving it to the soccer field, most of it, all of it,” Morgan said. “We’re going to have to try to get more people involved in Labor Day, all the churches and the community and the businesses if we want to keep it going, because it’s their Labor Day celebration or Railroad Days, not just the park board.”

Alderman Kim Skaggs-Henson agreed that community input is crucial and said she’d like to have as many groups as possible participate.

“I have a lot of ideas about Labor Day. I would love to have a meeting with the chamber, the park board, the city council, the public,” Skaggs-Henson said. “I would be really interested in having a scheduled meeting where all the organizations can get together for public input.”

For some residents, fixing Railroad Days means moving the festival back into Crocker’s downtown and out of the city park, where it’s been held in recent years.

That’s under consideration, Uherka said, possibly including keeping the crowning of Miss Crocker in downtown. However, Uherka said some parts of Railroad Days have to stay in the park.

“We talked about maybe having everything up here until around 2 p.m., the crowning up here and Little Miss crowning and everything up here like we used to, and then moving everything down there around 2 p.m. and having the fireworks and what-have-you down in the park,” Uherka said.

Moving to a different date probably won’t happen, however.

“We talked about moving to a different weekend, but a lot of people come in for that weekend, and that’s one of the reasons why they do come home that weekend,” Uherka said.

“If we start working it now and get some organization, get some committees formed, we can get it back to what it used to be,” Skaggs-Henson said. “Maybe we can get the word out in the paper and get some input on it.”

Morgan urged interested residents to come to the Crocker Park Board, which meets at 6 p.m. on the first Monday of each month.

In other park-related business:

• Alderman Jim Patton said he’d like to see the snack shack in the city park named for Jim Goodrich, who recently died in a vehicle crash.

“I’d like to make that a memorial more or less like we did with the ballfield,” Patton said. “He spent a lot of time in there, he put a lot of effort and time in there, so the heating and air, he donated all that.”

“I think that’s a great idea,” Morgan said.

• Several aldermen asked what could be done to improve the city park restroom facilities, but Alderman Charles Stroburg said concepts proposed by a team of engineering students didn’t work out.

“It was like a big million dollar community center. They didn’t take anything as small as two little outside bathrooms, so basically we developed our design ourselves,” Stroburg said.

Morgan asked if the porta-potties used last year worked. Youth sports volunteer Rey Peterson said the porta-potties worked “pretty well” as long as they were emptied and maintained properly.

“I think there was one instance that they didn’t there like they were supposed to and they got pretty bad,” Peterson said.

The porta-potties need to be in place by the end of May, she said. Aldermen agreed to obtain bids on restroom facilities by the next city council meeting on March 9.

• Uherka told the aldermen that an electrical panel on the park building will have to be replaced or repaired, either by upgrading to a commercial-level electrical box or by adding a second 200-amp electrical box; aldermen asked for bids to be present at the next council meeting.

• Uherka said two rodeos are scheduled for June and September, but no specific date had yet been set.

• Several alderman asked about the status of a land transfer agreement for the soccer fields. Patton said he believes that the required paperwork and payments to transfer the soccer fields to the city have been finished but the property deed has not yet been recorded.

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