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Harrington news

Budget, Opera House meeting and Country Christmas


City Budget

The city council met Tuesday, Dec. 5, for the final budget hearing for fiscal year 2017, with three council members present, Richard Becker, Mike Cronrath and Peter Davenport. Mayor Dillon Haas, clerk Bunny Haugan and two visitors, Cherie MacClellan, a recent home owner, and Marge Womach, reporter also attended. During a political year there are often an extra 10 persons who attend public meetings to stay in tune with the current status of the city. When public issues such as dog licenses or new city ordinances are on the agenda, council meetings may have as many as 20 citizens in attendance. The last city budget meeting had four visitors.

Each person present at the public hearing was provided a copy of the 2017 budget. The budget was reviewed by fund and line items. Changes included an increase in criminal justice funding due to voters approving the sales tax increase, an increase of $600 in state audit expenses, an increase in budgeting for an income survey in 2017, an increase in anticipated salaries during the Second Street project, potential additional expense for the transfer of garbage with the apple maggot issue and a projected decrease in street lighting expenses. This budget allows $25,000 for an Engineered Planning Grant in the water fund, an UPWP grant for the Street Fund and a possible grant in the sewer fund for the Vactor truck. Transfers from various funds to other funds were noted. For instance, the library board was reduced to a zero balance with only a portion of that amount showing in any of the library funds, and the cemetery improvement fund had a reduction of $16,000 which was transferred into the cemetery fund.

Harrington Opera

House Society

The Society met Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Art Room with Billie and Gordon Herron, Sheryl and Mark Stedman, Edwin and Bunny Haugan, Linda Wagner, Carol, Cherie MacClellan, Karen Robertson, Marge Womach and Dillon Haas present. Recent correspondence included several substantial donations. Potential grants were discussed, and receipt of the US Bank grant for $1,000 for the Art and Music Room was announced. Other business included securing the piano for winter and the installation of the damp-chaser on the Boston grand piano. Everything is in place and working well. Requirements for acclimating the piano to the room were given to ensure that no one exposes the piano to a radical temperature change.

Gordon Herron announced that the elevator inspection will take place Dec. 8 at 9:30 a.m.

Mark Stedman reported that the as-built plans from architect Sue Lani Madsen have not been completed and returned to the Society, and consequently her final bill has not been paid.

The rummage sale will not be held in December due to the weather forecast and the limited heat. Carol was pleased with the turnout and support that the Society has received this year. Piano students will play at the Davenport Retirement Village on Saturday and music lessons will be on vacation. Connie King will continue with art lessons on Monday. At present there is no charge for art lessons, which are available to children, teens and adults by appointment.

The Scott Kirby event was reported to have been wonderful, and it was said he hopes to come back to Harrington. On Nov. 28, the 4-H club held a meeting in the art room. The Nazarene church wanted to decorate Wednesday for the Dec. 9 Parks Family event. Decorations were to be made available to them. Compliments were made regarding how nice it is to have the community interested in making use of the Opera House. An inquiry was made as to why the school band is no longer using the opera house as it had when Monte Swenson was the music instructor here. Wagner noted that there are several opportunities for events in April, and she will keep working to finalize them. A Celtic group is contemplating coming in June, but no decision has been made.

Election of officers was quick, since the executive committee had met and created a suggested partial list of officers. Vice president was Carol, secretary was Linda Wagner, co-treasurer was Sheryl Stedman, historian was Bunny Haugan and building engineer was Carol. This list was voted in, leaving the president position empty and the one co-treasurer spot empty. Those positions, respectively, were filled last year by Billie Herron and Ed Haugan, who are both willing to stay in for the month of January while the issue can be worked out.

Dec. 9 Opera House event

Mid-afternoon on Friday, Dec. 9, with chilly winds blowing and a forecast of snow showers, two car loads of the Parks Family appeared at the Harrington Opera House and began setting up for the evening performance. From time to time music could be heard on the street overflowing the limits of the grand old 1904 Bank Block. These musicians were testing the acoustics of the auditorium and appreciating the quality of its workmanship. Each performer would “sound off” from various positions in the auditorium. As the others arrived, each commented on the excellence of the building.

The Parks Family is a Southern Gospel group from Branson, Mo., brought to Harrington by the Church of the Nazarene and Alpha Omega Charter Tours. The group is temporarily operating out of Spokane while their bus visits a mechanic. Their scheduled pianist for this event, Mark VanBebber, was unable to participate, but the Dion Family (bluegrass/instrumentalists) of Spokane joined them for the event. The father, Dan, played bass; son Bob, age 16, played guitar and son Caleb, 13, played banjo. In Spokane, they are affectionately known as “Dead Pan Dan and the Expressionless Pickers.”

The “Hometown Country Christmas,” began with a short welcome and introduction by the Nazarene pastor, Cade Clarke, to an audience of about 50. The opening number by the Parks Family was “Merry Christmas.” Their family consisted of the father, Tom, on keyboard and bass; mother, Debbie, their songwriter; three sons, Aaron doing percussion, Caleb on bass and Joshua on guitar; and daughter Melody on violin. They also brought Tom’s musical mother, Patti Parks, a member of the original Parks Family performers. They all sing!

“I Want to Give Like That” was written by Tom Parks, a tribute to his father. The familiar country western “Blue Star Shining” was the next selection. Promising to make the audience both smile and shed a tear, they performed “Grandmother’s House at Christmas.” Sprinkled in were stories about the family Christmases held at their own mother’s home. One of their newly written songs, “Journey to the Manger,” was also played.

The Dion Family, a bluegrass instrumental group, played “Bugle Call Rag,” “Carol of the Bells,” and “Soldiers in Joy.” Patti Parks joined the musicians on the stage where she told the story of the candy cane, followed by the playing and singing of several familiar Christmas songs, inviting the audience to join in singing, which they did with enthusiasm.

At this point in the performance Tom offered a touching tribute to our nation’s military. After they played and sang “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” the house and stage lights were dimmed and on stage stood the American flag with a single spotlight on it.

Tom Parks took an offering and invited the audience to take part in a naming game, using famous lines from Christmas movies, such as “When a bell rings, that means an angel got his wings,” “God bless us one and all” and “All aboard for the Polar Express” by a very young lady who in addition to a prize, received a big round of applause.

The Dion Family returned to the stage and read the Christmas story from Luke, followed by playing “Away in a Manger,” “I’ll Fly Away” (as a tribute to a friend), “Train Around the Christmas Tree” and ending with “Jingle Bells.” Patti Parks returned to the stage and told in words and music the story of the word “Christmas.” She then invited all to sing “Silent Night.”

Tom asked the audience if they would mind him playing the Boston piano. He then played the first piano piece his mom had taught him, “Last Date” by Floyd Cramer. It sounded “grand,” and his mother looked so pleased. The Parks Family continued with “Jesus’ Birthday,” “Christmas at Our House is Love” and finished with a soulful “Mary Did You Know?” Following the performance, the musicians came down and mingled with the audience and were warmly received.


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