The Pipes of Christmas event held this past weekend and its planning committee were recognized by the village of Greenfield as the December Citizens of the Month.
It’s something city manager Todd Wilkin recognized took a lot of hard work to pull off, and it’s a unique event that he said he’d like to see be a recurring draw to Greenfield, perhaps even be displayed on the welcome signs coming into town, something like “Home of the Pipes of Christmas.”
The event combined not only the three more than 100-year-old pipe organs in town, but the history-filled places where the pipes reside — the Presbyterian Church, The First United Methodist Church, and McClain High School.
Committee member Susan Long said it’s estimated that attendance on Sunday “broke 500” and that each of the three locations was full with people.
Three of the four organists for the event were McClain graduates, she said, who got their start at the school, and all the organists are “highly-qualified musicians.” Along with the organists, there was a community choir with the McClain Show Choir, and a bell and chime choir, too.
The event not only featured Greenfield’s three working pipe organs, but the historic places where the organs rest. The event began at the churches, with the grand finale occurring in the McClain High School auditorium. Long noted that at the Methodist church the organ was installed by Mrs. Edward McClain with a $1,000 donation from industrialist Andrew Carnegie.
The event allowed not only “some neat history” to be showcased, she said, but it also brought together the community, its beauty, and talent.
Long said recordings were done at each venue and that an audio compilation will be forthcoming, likely on YouTube, and maybe even DVD.
Committee members John Mitchell, Mindy Hunter, Susan Long and Tom Schluep were present to receive the award at Monday’s council meeting. Other committee members include Mike Anderson, Sue Ann Baird, Brad Barber, James Knisley, Stuart McNeil, David Pettit, Lee Ann Ross, Laura Wagner and David Weaks.
Other awards given during the meeting included the Christmas home decorating contest, which was awarded to the Hillcrest Drive home of Melanie and Eric Spangler. Their daughter, Chloe, joined them Monday at the council meeting.
The winners of the Christmas decorating contest for business storefronts were: first place, Seely Portraits; second place, Small Town Fitness; and third place, Robbins Village Florist.
December’s employee of the month is Mark Hamilton with the Greenfield Police Department. Hamilton was recognized for his continued growth and dedication each year as a patrolman. He was recently recognized by the county for his part in combating drugs.
Wilkin said he sometimes hears from people wondering why they don’t see the police “working drugs,” but the city manager said there is a significant amount of work that goes into the “endless battle” of fighting drugs, work that is not seen. He wants people to understand that the hard work is happening, and officers like Hamilton are the ones getting it done.
In other business, legislation passed by council included an ordinance for an opt-out gas aggregation program, but since it is an opt-out, the measure must be approved by voters. Council’s passage of the legislation will allow the matter to be put on May’s ballot.
Wilkin said there are no opt-in programs available anymore. For years, the village has worked with the same energy broker. Wilkin said if anyone has issues with their electric bill to contact the village offices, and you can be provided the energy broker’s contact information.
The city manager reminded everyone to check out the community calendar, which is accessible by QR code and can be found on the village website, Facebook and at various places throughout town. While it is being widely used already, Wilkin encouraged more residents and organizations to become involved because it’s a great tool for awareness of Greenfield events.
In his report to council, Wilkin said the last couple months have seen a lot of work with Tim Dettwiller, director of the county’s workforce development initiative ACCESS (Alignment of Community Connections for Employer Student Success).
The endeavor was born from an industry roundtable meeting more than a year ago regarding how other entities in the state are successfully bridging the gaps between education and industry. Since that meeting, business, community and educational entities have come together to build the strategy that will grow a vibrant workforce in Highland County.
Also, there has been a meeting with Michael Linton, a business owner and member of the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board, Wilkin said. Linton has invited the local group to be a part of a regional discussion on workforce development. It’s something Wilkin said will be a good opportunity to not only to share the local successes, but to learn from others.
Wilkin said that while 2021 was a year of planning, 2022 has been a year of accomplishing the plans. While everything will be highlighted in the annual report in the coming months, on Monday Wilkin noted several major accomplishments like the Facade Improvement Program, businesses moving into empty and under-used storefronts, First Friday and other events that have brought people to the downtown, a Designated Outdoor Entertainment Area (DORA) was formed, and the downtown continues to attract new growth.
A piece of legislation passed by council was for the meeting time of the regular council sessions to be at 4:45 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m. An organizational meeting will be held after the first of the year.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the village of Greenfield.