If a newly launched fundraising drive is successful, downtown Jackson will have a new and different look during the Christmas season this year.

The Downtown and Park Improvement Committee formally organized early this year and has the blessing and support of new Jackson Mayor Randy Evans for its plans to give downtown Jackson and its parks a new and fresh look. One of the committee’s first projects is to pursue a coordinated decorating plan for the Christmas season.

The Downtown and Park Improvement Committee is composed of Chairwoman Marva Colby, Sally Jones McNamara, Debbie Biggs, and Karisa DeLay. Colby and Biggs are both newly elected Jackson city councilwomen who began their terms in January. DeLay is the owner/operator of a downtown business and is also the co-chair of the Jackson Downtown Association, which has conducted monthly First Thursday events to bring more people to the downtown sector.

The new committee is also interested and authorized to propose and spearhead projects for the city parks in Jackson. However, none of those plans have yet been made or announced.

Mayor Evans says all proposed projects will need to have the city’s approval, but thus far, he is in support of what has been proposed and adds that in general, he’s in favor of efforts to beautify and improve the looks of the city.

“If people want to work to make the city better, we’re all for it. We love that community spirit,” Evans told The Telegram.

Colby told The Telegram that the committee has a vision for a planned and coordinated new look for the downtown area which will be simple, but yet upscale.

“We really wanted to do this when we saw what some people are doing to improve their downtown buildings,” Colby remarked. “It’s going to look different. It will be traditional and I think it fits our town with the historic buildings we have downtown.”

One of the first preparatory moves was the elimination of the sidewalk trees, which had grown too large over the years and were even damaging the sidewalks and decorative bricks along the curbsides. City crews accomplished this task earlier in the year. Evans noted that the removal of the trees was also supported and pushed for by other downtown merchants as well as the committee.

The targeted Christmas decorations area will involve a three-block area – Main Street from Portsmouth to Church Street and Broadway Street from Main to Pearl Street.

The Christmas-season decoration plan calls for the use of the period lighting already in place in that three-block area, but with the main street lights to be turned off except those at the intersections, which will remain lighted for safety reasons. Mayor Evans noted the city is already conducting a trial period in which the main street lights have been turned off to determine if the period lighting provides enough lighting. Evans’ preliminary judgment is that they do.

Positioned directly under the lights on each of the period-lighting poles during the Christmas season, will be a large evergreen-colored wreath with an attached large bright red ribbon tied in an attractive bow.

“It will be simple, but it will have a Christmas feel to it,” Colby commented.

As part of the new plan, the city-owned Christmas decorations with the memorial signs will no longer be hung in the downtown area, but will continue to be placed in other locations in the city and as close to the downtown sector as possible. This recommendation was made recently by a different community committee appointed by Jackson City Council to address the future of those decorations and how to provide support to the city to continue that project.

Colby also said the Jackson Downtown Association will be contacting downtown businesses and offices to invite and urge them to decorate their front windows for Christmas. The more who participate, the more impressive the collective will look, she said.

In addition to the wreaths and the use of the period lighting, the committee will also be purchasing and installing 18 black metal benches, which will be spaced evenly throughout the three-block area.

The committee hopes to raise the necessary funding through private donations from businesses, organizations and individuals. Jackson City Council is establishing an account in the city budget for deposit of these funds. Donors can specify their donation is for a specific item such as a bench or wreath or then can simply make a general donation.

Checks can be made payable to: The City of Jackson, P.O. Box 1090, Jackson, Ohio, 45640 with the memo line of “Downtown Park and Improvement Fund.”