Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Catch the Spirit of Milan

Members of the Spirit of Milan include Jeff Lewis, Nina Pemberton, Asia Renning, Jerry Renning, Bob Grostick, Dan Bishop, Barbara Gaines, Doug Gilson, Kathy Gilson, Timothy Troin, Gary Shaw, Bill Knapp, Linda Gilson and Jim Gilson.

If you haven't caught the spirit of Milan yet, you should and all it takes is a commitment to the community and a $100 donation.

The Spirit of Milan is a group of Milan-area residents, business leaders and government officials who are on a fund-raising mission. They hope to get donations in $100 increments from individuals in the community to support the annual fireworks display, concerts in the park, holiday parade and a new project called Sunset Point, a place where people will be able to take in Ford Lake and all of its beauty as park benches and a concrete path are installed near the lake.

I attended the Spirit of Milan's Moving Milan Forward Spring Fling March 14 at Campfire Restaurant's Fireplace Lounge, where after just an hour $700 had been raised, with seven people making $100 donations toward the four projects. By the night's end, $1,500 had been garnered. The goal is ambitious as it costs between $12,000 and $13,000 to put on the fireworks, at least $2,000 for the holiday parade, $3,000 for Sunset Point and an unspecified amount for the summer concert series. Last year, only about $2,700 was raised, but this year there's a more organized effort and bigger push.

About 20 people attended the Spring Fling, with another tentatively scheduled for May 4, with the time and location to be announced. The core group meets 8 a.m. every Friday at Campfire Restaurant. "We volunteer our time to raise funds for events that are important to the community," said Milan City Administrator Dan Bishop, a member of the Spirit of Milan.

Bishop said Spirit of Milan aims to maintain the quality of life in the community. "There's a lot of cool stuff going on in town that the city can't afford to finance," he said. "So we thought we'd go out and ask people to maintain the quality of life everyone enjoys. If everyone gets involved, we can still have these events. If people don't get involved, they go away."

Can you imagine Milan without a Fourth of July fireworks display during the fair? I can't. That event alone attracts 14,000 people to the community, according to organizer Doug Gilson. Think about the economic impact 14,000 people coming to Milan has on the community. Businesses get a huge boost and the town gets a lot of exposure, leaving a positive imprint on those who visit, who then likely return to shop and spend time in Milan.

Let's all catch the spirit of Milan. It's a positive thing to be involved in, and will help ensure the economic vitality and quality of life all have come to enjoy.

View video of Jerry Renning explaining the goal of Spirit of Milan and how to donate (send $100 checks to City of Milan, with Spirit of Milan 2008 in the memo section), at

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