PAULDING – The Paulding Village Council’s street committee members met Tuesday, March 14 with Peggy Emerson from the Paulding Chamber of Commerce to discuss the parade route for John Paulding Days.

The street committee consists of Councilmen Barbara Rife, Dan Workman and Robert Boyd. Councilmen Tim Boss was also present at the meeting.

Emerson presented the following proposal to the council for John Paulding Days that will be held in July: closing the village square at Friday, July 14 at 5 p.m. and reopen the downtown area again Saturday, July 15 at 11:59 p.m., detouring truck traffic with a state route detour with the support of ODOT.

The proposal includes the closure of all four streets that surround the courthouse, as opposed to recent years only closing only East Jackson and North Main streets.

“I know the chamber would very much like to see John Paulding Days continue to grow and expand,” Emerson said. “I feel like it’s back on its way from the verge of death to something that the village can be very proud of and so planning for the future to expand is just a smart way to go.”

The application reads: “North side of the courthouse square would need to close on Thursday at 5 p.m. to allow for vendor set-up. South and West sides of the courthouse square would close at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 14, and reopen after the fireworks on Saturday night at 11:59 p.m.

Emerson also requested that the intersection of Perry and Main be closed at an angle to allow local traffic to turn south only to access that part of the village.

Emerson stated, “We asked them [ODOT] to use the same route as they did for the construction, and they agreed.”

“They’re not going to go out at midnight and take down [barricades]; it’s going to be an inconvenience to truck drivers to drive 20 miles out of their way,” said Mayor Greg Reinhart.

“It’s not a big concern. Truck drivers do it all the time,” Rife replied.

Village resident Tony Buchman asked, “So where do they route them, Greg, they route them on this side of the square so they are not tearing up any city streets?”

Buchman went on to say after multiple people debated the route, “I mean if they do not adhere to the signs, where do they go then? The only time you would have to keep them at the edge of town would be during the actual parade. If they would miss the detour...”

Reinhart interrupted by saying, “They [the chamber] have their thing with going all the way around the square.”

“That is what we have asked for, yes,” replied Emerson.

Buchman asked Reinhart, “Your beef, as I understood it, was that they were going to Water Street and whatever during that parade, so that is alleviated.”

“You’re not listening, Tony. They’re using all four sides of the square,” replied Reinhart.

“That is not the issue that we are talking about,” interjected Rife.

At this point, multiple conversations started again regarding the two separate issues at hand – the parade route and the closing of the four sides of the courthouse square. The chamber submitted an application for each request.

“They either follow the detour or they sit and wait until the parade is over. That’s it,” said Workman.

  Rife went on to ask Emerson what her plans are for the use of all four sides of the courthouse square.

Emerson said they hope to use the north and east sides as usual for rides, vendors and music. The rest of the area will be used for a cruise-in.

“The word is already out among the cruise-in people. They seem to enjoy it and have a great time so one of the things we would like to do is use the other two sides of the courthouse so they can park head-in.”

“One of the biggest things for me is the safety factor of the crowd,” said Emerson. “Word has gotten out that we had excellent fireworks and I think we will have an even bigger crowd this year.”

Plans call for the fireworks to again be launched at the same place, behind the library.

Emerson continued, “So for safety with peopling going back and forth across the road [U.S. 127], my feeling is that it should be shut down for the weekend.”

Reinhart informed Emerson that this year, John Paulding Days fireworks will be competing with the Three Rivers Festival fireworks.

“They won’t set up the barricades up at 5. It will be Friday at 8 a.m. until Monday morning at 8 a.m.,” Reinhart believes.

Rife asked if local traffic will be able to get around if there is a barricade set up.

“Yes, it will be like when we had all that construction,” Emerson said. “So if someone is just driving on State Route 127, they will want to follow that detour, but anyone coming and going in town is going to know their way.”

Rife asked the other council members for their opinions.

Workman replied, “I don’t think it will be a big problem myself. The only problem will be the truck drivers who do not follow the detour.”

Boyd also replied that he didn’t have any issues.

The meeting continued with discussion of the details of John Paulding Days, such as the chamber’s donation to the village police for extra coverage, the possible use of fairgrounds, the use of the side roads, who provides electricity and possible support from the sheriff’s office for any trucks that do not follow the detour.

“I talked to [Police Chief] Randy [Crawford] and with some of reserves resigning, we don’t think there will be enough people on the old route; if we had a different route, there would be less police,” stated Mayor Reinhart.

“Help me see what police you need, if the traffic is stopped,” asked Emerson.

“We ain’t going to keep cars stopped,” replied Reinhart.

“The cars are not an issue. They can take a side street. It is the truck traffic that is hurting your street,” said Buchman.

Boyd noted, “If you close the main route, it will stay closed until Monday morning until 7.”

If semi trucks do disregard the detour and come in after Saturday at midnight, there’s no real harm after that point, said Buchman.

“It’s our position that the parade route coming through downtown around the square is critical to the success of John Paulding Days,” said chamber board member Dave Burtch. “It draws the crowd on Friday night, a huge crowd, and without that parade on the town square, we don’t think John Paulding Days is viable.”

“We want to keep it on the square. That’s the whole point,” said Emerson.

The festival has “been there for 60-some years,” Burtch added.

Emerson noted the committee ODOT assured her that whatever she needed, they would be able to provide it to her. The detour is not even two full days.

“It is going to be three days,” countered Reinhart, smacking his hands as he counted. “Friday morning. Saturday morning. Sunday morning. Monday morning. Three days!”

“What we are getting at Greg, so what they are detoured Friday morning; if they do happen to slip through there, it’s not the end of the world because you don’t have the people [festival goers] down there,”Buchman stated.

“A day and half is going to be okay, probably,” replied Reinhart.

Emerson told the committee that the chamber will make sure that the local barricades are taken down after the fireworks so the streets will be open.

More debate followed among the committee members, mayor, members of the chamber and the public in regard about how to handle the semi trucks that choose not to follow the detour.

“We have a thousand ways to get around small issues like that. We could golf cart lead them through the barricades if we had to,” Emerson said.

Rife stated she was in favor of the proposals for the parade route and closing all four sides of the square, and will see how it goes.

“It might not work. We might get every truck in the book coming down there ... but we can look at it next year. So just bear with us.”

At the close of the meeting, Rife asked members once again if they approved Emerson’s proposal or opposed it.

All members of the street committee voted unanimously to recommend to the village council that this application be approved.

Next regular council meeting is Monday, March 20.