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Chesapeake group having big impact

CHESAPEAKE — Pam Hollar was living in Columbus when she would come back to her hometown of Chesapeake for weekends. What she saw, she liked. So much so she moved back home.

“You would see all the people coming together. It was such a friendly atmosphere,” she said. “We wanted to be a part of it.”

But just living in Chesapeake wasn’t enough.

“We wanted to be a part of the village on a bigger scheme,” she said.

That’s why she got involved with the Chesapeake Area Citizens Coalition. Started 18 years ago, the organization has racked up a track record of community involvement.

Among its contributions is transferring a $15,000 grant to the village to pay for playground equipment for its park. It was also instrumental in getting the Save-A-Lot grocery store in the village when there was no place to shop locally, Hollar said.

Operation TLC also benefits from the coalition, which donates to the beautification group.

One of the most visible and popular efforts by the coalition is the Octoberfest, which, although started 13 years ago, in the past two years has attracted more to the village.

“The last two have been the largest,” Hollar said. “We really buckled down to bring everyone into it.”

Previously the festival had been mainly a craft and baked goods show, which soon tired small children. But the coalition has been trying to turn it more into a family event.

“It wasn’t geared for the kids,” she said. “We have tried to emphasize more of the music. We have the car show, the race in the morning, inflatables. We have games. (Before) you’d just go there and get a couple pieces of fudge and leave.”

Right now on the coalition’s radar is working to install a carving of the Chesapeake school’s mascot, the panther, in front of the elementary school.

Upcoming will be the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. Dec. 4 at Triangle Park where Santa Claus will appear and the junior high will present a short play.

“The kids come to sing. There’s cookies and hot cocoa,” Hollar said. “This is another tradition we have been doing.”

The coalition also wants to buy its own sound system so it can sponsor concerts ranging from gospel to country music depending on what the public likes.

“We’d sell hot dogs. The family could come and sit on blankets and have a nice family time. During the spring and summer months, it would give the community something to do.”

Once a month the coalition usually meets to go over upcoming events or add to its wish list of community projects. It is always looking for new members and anyone interested in getting involved is welcome.

“If they would like to make a donation, or like to participate. Once you get involved you want to do more and more,” Hollar said.

“Not enough people actually take the time. Nobody has the time. You have to force the time, to want to step up to care whether or not weeds are cut at Triangle Park,” she said. “Whether there will be functions for the kids at Christmas. To take an interest. People are talking about change in this election. You have to start out in your own backyard.”

For more information about joining the coalition, interested individuals can contact coalition president, Andy Hunt, at (304) 972-6187, or treasurer, Becky McClelland at becky.mcclelland@peake.k12.oh.us.