“We’re going to need a lot of help, the more the merrier,” George West Chamber of Commerce Director Rena McWilliams said.
Part of the celebration so far will involve remembering the veterans of the Vietnam War by bringing a traveling Vietnam Wall memorial to George West on Sept. 17, 2014. There are multiple traveling wall replicas of the real memorial in Washington, D.C., and the one that’s in the works for George West is supposedly the largest one at 80 percent.
“What can you do to get people to come and celebrate if not to celebrate the veterans,” Mayor Steele asked. “It’s just one of those things – that everyone has someone in their lives who is a vet. To me, it’s important because my husband is a vet. It’s a wonderful thing to celebrate.”
The Grace Armantrout Museum is behind bringing the wall to George West, but the contract isn’t set in stone yet. The museum is currently seeking donations to help cover the estimated cost of $8,000.
Although the memorial is tentatively set to be the centerpiece of the festivities, the city and chamber are seeking volunteers to join the centennial committee and brainstorm ideas for how the town should ring in its centennial year and to help make it happen.
“We’re going to have our organization meeting in the not-too-distant future,” McWilliams said. “We don’t have plans firm, but the city and the chamber are going to be working together.”
George West City Manager Sandra Martinez told the city council that several people have come to city hall and the chamber of commerce already to discuss preparations for the centennial during their meeting on June 19. The city council unanimously approved helping fund the centennial events for 2014.
“The excess of money in the HOT funds could be used for the centennial, which could be used for heads-to-beds,” Martinez said. “Everyone should be involved because this is celebrating the city’s birthday.”
Hotel occupancy tax funds are set aside exclusively for events that promote tourism. These tax funds are how Three Rivers is funding its centennial celebration next week.
As a centennial celebration, the town’s history will be a common theme through the year. The George West Chamber of Commerce is seeking information on families who played a role in the founding of the town and its early years for a series of feature articles on founding families to be printed in The Progress throughout 2014.
McWilliams suggested the Canfield family, owners of the early local grocery store, as one of the families to feature in the historical articles. But she is open to suggestions for more families.
“I think it will come together, be a big project and be successful and the natives of George West will have something to be proud of,” she said.
McWilliams encouraged anyone with information and early photos to contact the chamber.
To get involved with the brainstorming and planning process for the George West centennial, contact the George West Chamber of Commerce at 449-2033 or McWilliams at 362-3322.
“It’s just overwhelming when you see it’s coming, and time is running tight on this already,” Steele said.