Bement organization lacks volunteers; celebrations may suffer
BEMENT — Bement's Fourth of July celebration and Christmas Parade are at risk of not being held in 2014 with the announcement that the Bement Community Council will suspend activities for the year.
The council, formed after the town's 1955 Centennial celebration, is a longtime organizer and sponsor of the summer fireworks. It also collaborates with other organizations for Christmas in Bement.
Community Council President Jeff Funk said it's not as much a matter of money as it is a dwindling volunteer base. He hopes another organization can take over sponsorship of the events.
"If some other organization or group wants to take over, we'd be glad to provide some money that's been raised toward cost of fireworks, and certainly provide any contact information," said Funk, who has headed up the council board since the mid-1990s. He added that fireworks cost a minimum of $4,000 due to insurance requirements.
The decision to cease activities this year was made at a Jan. 23 meeting, and the Bement Area Chamber of Commerce and Lion's Club were both notified.
BACC President Tabitha Elder is not sure if the organization will pick up sponsorship of former community council events, but said it is "something the chamber really needs to think about." It will be discussed at the next midday general membership meeting of the BACC on Thursday, March 6.
Elder added "I assume Christmas in Bement will still go on minus Community Council events."
In the past the council sponsored the parade and appearance by Santa. Other activities include an open house at the Bryant Cottage State Historic Site and a vendor blender at Bement Elementary School.
Old Glory Days — one of the town's biggest celebrations held in early June — should not be affected.
Funk hopes the community council can have a resurgence in the future.
"We didn't disband, and hope we don't. If people come out of the woodwork and join, that would be great," he said.
Funk encourages any organizations or persons wanting to take over organization of some of the events to call him at 217-493-7739 or community council vice-president Ken Wright at 217-621-1438.