EATON – Several volunteers were recognized for their contributions to the City of Eaton’s Whispering Christmas during the January city council meeting.
The meeting was held Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Dave Kirsch, City of Eaton Mayor, along with council members, thanked the many volunteers and committee members who make it possible for the city to have one of area’s best lighting displays during the Christmas season. This past year marked the 29th annual event and the volunteers are looking to make this coming year, the 30th such event, even bigger and better.
“We are planning some nice things for our 30th year,” said committee member Dean Wigger.
Whispering Christmas began in 1987 with 800 lights and now has nearly 2 million.
“The joy you so generously give to Eaton, Preble County and beyond is very much appreciated,” Kirsch said.
Kirsch added the public’s support also plays part in the success of the event.
“Each year the public’s generosity to support Whispering Christmas continues to be exceptional,” Kirsch said.
Not all was well with the event though, according to at least one Eaton resident.
Janet Crelin, who lives on Main Street just west of Fort St. Clair, voiced her concern to council about the amount of traffic the lighting festival attracts.
She said there are certain nights during the month it is very difficult for her and her neighbors to get home. At times, traffic is backed up to the middle of the city to the courthouse and beyond.
She asked for council to look into the situation and come up with a resolution before this year’s event.
“Grumpy old lady is what I kind of feel like I’m being pictured as,” she said. “I am not talking about doing away with Whispering Christmas. I have lived out there 16 years and have seen it grow. It’s so much more beautiful. The problem is it has just grown like top seed. At this point we haven’t managed the traffic. There are getting to be some dangerous areas.”
Crelin mentioned, if there were to be an emergency along Main Street it could be a problem for fire and EMS personnel to respond.
Crelin added, “All I’m asking is, can we figure a way to manage this? We can no longer just let people go whichever way they want to. There’s got to be a way to manage this to make us all happy.”
Council recognized longtime Planning, Zoning and Building Appeals Board member Tom Kline, who resigned from the board in December. He was honored for his service during the meeting. Kline served on the board since 1993.
“Tom has generously given of his time, talent and considerable abilities, not only to his appeals board duties, but also to the unified development ordinance committee,” Kirsch said. “He is to be commended and remembered as an exemplary board member with utmost dedication to duty and public service.”
In other business:
•Bill Hutton of the H.I.T. Foundation updated council on a few projects, including the development of Eagle’s Point. Hutton said the complex is ahead of schedule and should be ready to open in December.
Hutton also noted the homeless shelter has been open since October. He said the H.I.T. Foundation began providing services for the homeless as far back as February 2015 and served over 160 people last year. He said 90 percent of those had previous Eaton addresses.
He noted the cold shelter has been active when temperatures fall below freezing. He said the shelter is manned by volunteers only.
The Senior Home Repair program served 70-plus seniors in the county last year, with 30 of those in the city.
“We have seniors out there living in very poor conditions,” he said.
•City manager Brad Collins also updated council on several items.
Eaton’s next council meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 16, due to the President’s Day holiday.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.