Independence Day is my favorite holiday. It happens in the middle of the summer, it's got a great story, there are no gifts, and it's close enough to my birthday to make me think that big commercial firework display is all for me. Thanks to the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and to hundreds of community volunteers, Ashland takes this holiday to new heights. (Check the Chamber's website at www.ashlandchamber.com for the day's schedule).
The City plays a major support role, and the Parks & Recreation, Public Works, Police, and Fire Departments will all do a great deal of work between now and next Tuesday. If you get a chance this weekend, please thank the staff and volunteers you see working from these departments for all that they do to make sure the 4th of July is fun and safe for everyone. We plan for 25,000 people to be in Ashland for the parade and the many events in the afternoon and evening. In addition to the large number of people who come to town, we have a few other challenges this year including the new ban on fireworks and a couple of additional beer gardens that a couple of restaurants will be setting up. I will give you a debrief of any major issues that arise on Tuesday.
There are just a few other things you will want to know about.
Fiscal Year End/Beginning. July 1 was the beginning of the fiscal year. If you have any lingering reimbursement requests that you need to turn in from Fiscal Year 2010, please get them into Diana Shiplet ASAP. This includes any travel or expense reimbursements from a training or committee. If you turn them in after July 19, we will not be able to reimburse your expenses because we close out the year.
Fire at Ashland High School. The cause of the fire in the bleachers at Ashland High School is still under investigation. It's been a tricky case to investigate both because the sprinklers partially put the fire out and because the bleachers had to be reconstructed before the investigation was complete. The City's building inspectors will be out looking at the safety of the bleachers today because the American Band College concert will have to be rearranged if the bleachers aren't safe to be used. If you have any questions about the investigation, please let Chief Karns know.
Upcoming Annual Meeting with the Ashland Community Hospital. Once a year, the President of the Ashland Community Hospital Board and the CEO of the Hospital hold an annual meeting with the City Council. That meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6:30 on July 20 (just before the Council meeting). In addition to the report, the Hospital folks will discuss some changes they would like to request in our existing lease and agreement.
Sonja Akerman Retires. On Wednesday, June 30, Sonja Akerman retired from the City of Ashland after 27 years of service. Sonja worked for most of that time for the Community Development Department, and she, Sue Yates and Robbin Pearce tell famous stories about being crammed into the area that Dana Smith now occupies with one computer and a daisy wheel printer. Sonja has been a steady and calm presence in the Human Resources Department for nearly a decade, and she frequently backed up all of us in Administration. We will miss many things about her, not the least of which is that she is one of the few people who knew EVERY employee's name (not to mention everyone's favorite color). We will miss her a great deal.
As a reminder, City offices are closed on Monday, July 5, as that is the official "holiday" recognizing Independence Day.
I look forward to waiving at all of you as you go by in the parade on Sunday. Have a great Independence Day Holiday.