Archive for Thursday, April 5, 2007

Fireworks planned for Maple Leaf

April 5, 2007

For the 50th anniversary of the Maple Leaf Festival this year, there will be a new bang for the buck.

Maple Leaf Festival Committee President Donna Curran had an additional request for the Baldwin City Council at Monday's meeting when the council gave its annual approval to street closings and other items for the festival.

"I do ask that we can start at 6 p.m. Friday this year for a welcoming ceremony for the 50th anniversary," said Curran. "Because of the 50th anniversary, we would like to set off a fireworks display on Friday night."

This year's golden anniversary Maple Leaf will be Oct. 19-21 with the addition of Friday's fireworks start. Ordinarily, the festival doesn't officially start until Saturday morning.

The fireworks display will be where the annual Fourth of July display is at north of the ball fields at Baldwin High School. There was initial confusion about the actual location where the fireworks would be shot from, which during last year's display was from land owned by Baker University.

"We will work it out," said Mayor Gary Walbridge, who is also in charge of facilities at Baker.

The usual street closings will again be in place, with the addition of one more block of Sixth Street this year. This year the street will be closed at Ames Street, or U.S. Highway 56. There was confusion in the area last year when the street was open about a half a block south of the highway.

Sherri Caldwell, who heads up the MLF parade, also told council members that there may need to be an additional street blocked off depending on number of entries for the parade, which is one of the festival's premier events.

"The parade this year we are expecting a larger turnout," said Caldwell. "Baker has some floats. We may need an additional road to line up the floats."

The council also approved the annual Baldwin City Bicycle Race for the weekend of June 23. It has been a stage race for the first five years, but had to be changed when rules were altered for such races.

There will also be a new course. It will be south on Eighth Street from Dearborn to Grove streets, west on Grove to 10th Street, north to Dearborn and east to Eighth. Traffic will be restricted in those areas during the race that Saturday.

Residents along the route will also have limited access. That's how it was for last year's event.

"We didn't have any problems last year," said race organizer Tony Stewart.

Council member Tony Brown supports the race, but notes that's going to be a high traffic weekend in Baldwin City.

"The Chautauqua is here the same weekend," said Brown. "It's going to be a very busy weekend."

Council members also approved a request to allow for partial closure of Miami Street near the Midland Railway Depot. Details are still being worked out, but the council gave its nod to a plan where crossing arms will be used to close off access to the depot during certain times.

Both Midland Railway and Santa Fe Trail Historical Society members made the request for safety reason. SFTHS leases the depot from the city. The approval gave those officials the go-ahead to put them in plans for renovations at the depot.

Council members were also updated regarding the issue of burning leaves in Baldwin City. Safety committee and council member Nancy Brown said that a class at Baker had researched the issue and found that there were health issues involved with burning leaves. However, they also found that no other community in Kansas has banned leaf burning.

"We have the chance to set a precedent and be a forerunner," said N. Brown.

She said that there's much more to look into regarding the issue.

"So, Nancy, you're basically still gathering data?" asked Walbridge.

"Yes," she said. "The safety committee is on the job. This isn't going to be a quick and easy answer."

She said a target date for a recommendation would be by the time the leaves were falling again.

"There aren't any fast and easy answers," said T. Brown, who also heard the Baker presentation. "It's a tough nut to crack."

The council also proclaimed April 22 as Arbor Day in Baldwin City. The request had been made by the Baldwin Tree Board.

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