CAMDEN — Camden Village Council agreed to partner with a local theatre to organize a “family-friendly summer festival” in Camden during its bi-monthly meeting Thursday, Aug. 6.
Polly Heinkel, Assistant Director of the Cincinnati-based American Legacy Theatre, suggested partnering with the village to secure a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Along with matching funds raised by theatre personnel, the grant would fund a festival centering on historical connections to the Underground Railroad in Camden, according to Heinkel.
Heinkel suggested the festival could take place during Summer 2022, either on the streets or at Waterworks Park in Camden.
“It would encourage people to come and experience the town for a day,” Heinkel said, stating that those who attend such events typically spend an average of around $30 per person at local businesses.
In addition, funds collected by charging for admission or vendor registration would go directly to the village, according to Heinkel.
“If it’s successful the first year, we might want to renew for a second year and look at other ways to promote the arts in Camden,” Heinkel said.
According to Camden Archives treasurer Cherry Anderson and president Helen Whitesell, anecdotal stories related by local residents cite one house on N. Main Street and two homes on Camden-College Corner Road as waystations on the Underground Railroad, though no official documentation of this could be found in the archives.
The location of the latter two homes would make sense, however, according to Anderson, as Camden-College Corner could have served as a less-traveled route between known Underground Railroad hubs in nearby West Elkton and Fairhaven.
Also during Thursday’s meeting:
Council considered a request from administrators at Camden Primary School to close Bloomfield Street near the school building for 45 minutes a day beginning in the fall, as additional buses will be needed to transport students from recently closed West Elkton Intermediate School to Camden Primary.
Council member Kelly Doran suggested putting in a gate on Bloomfield Street if the added buses would be an ongoing concern.
“Nobody wants to be dragging barricades in and out of there every day,” Doran said. Village fiscal officer Becky Wilson suggested putting in speed bumps to slow down traffic in front of the school.
Council member Judy Michael, meanwhile, again asked for the removal of speed bumps she argues were placed on her street without proper approval from council. Michael previously raised concerns about the speed bumps during council’s June 6, 2019 meeting.
“I’ve had complaints, and I know other people have had complaints,” Michael said during Thursday’s meeting. Mayor Karen Moss said that she had also received complaints about the bumps. Council ultimately voted to remove the obstructions, with councilman Wendell Mackie voting against and Debbie Hickman choosing to abstain.
Council announced the resignation of Fire Chief Gary Taylor effective Oct. 31, and moved to post an advertisement for a new part-time fire chief, with a salary of $15,000.
Council member Jeff Steele reported on efforts to catch a vandal suspected of damaging playground equipment in a local park.
“[Village Administrator] Rusty Wilson has had run-ins with the same young man… we just need proof,” Steele said. Steele said the village would pursue legal action against the perpetrator’s family once proper evidence was acquired.
Finally, councilman Doran again brought up issues with residents leaving garbage cans, often without lids and overflowing with trash, at the ends of driveways and in village streets long after trash day, as well as with trash being blown out of recycling bins. Doran reiterated that cans should be taken away from the curb once trash is collected, and that damaged cans or those without lids can be replaced without cost to the resident by contacting Rumpke.
Doran indicated this was especially aggravating given that council voted unanimously to waive disconnect fees for essential utilities, and offer free trash pick-up service for village residents for 60 days, during its March 19 meeting. Doran proposed the break on trash service, suggesting it could be paid for using money from the village’s trash fund, which at the time totaled about $178,000.
Village council meetings take place the first and third Thursday of each month, at 7 p.m., at Camden Town Hall.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook or Instagram @mproperenglish