By JIM KEVLIN
|Ian Austin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA|
Linda Gilmore and one of her banners.
When you marry someone from Willoughby, Ohio, anything can happen.
Just ask Linda Gilmore, a Bassett Hospital nurse who would often visit her husband Michael’s family in the Buckeye State.
During one visit, they were driving down a long street in Mentor, Ohio – long and straight, sort of like Oneonta’s River Street, where the couple lives – that was festooned with American flags on every pole.
“It was beautiful,” said Linda, and she got the idea in her head: If Mentor, why not Oneonta? Why not River Street?
“I got into it because I just love the community down here,” Gilmore said the other day. “It’s a unique group of people. We care about each other. When things go awry in our community, we pull together.”
River Street is an access point to businesses and places of employment, so it’s well traveled. And people walk and jog along its sidewalk.
“I just wanted something that would make River Street a little more pretty,” said Linda. “I’m proud to live down here.”
This was a while ago. She approached City Hall, but didn’t get much encouragement. With the arrival of the Miller Administration, she tried again.
Both Mayor Dick Miller and Sixth Ward Alderman Veronica Diver encouraged her.
“I was really excited,” said Gilmore. “But I didn’t realize how much work it would be.”
Meanwhile, Linda had been thinking about what should be on the banner. With the help of neighbors and friends, including Tony and Ann Mongillo, she came up with four themes.
The first banner, on a community theme, will feature a church and a school, and will be the wording, “Welcome to Oneonta; Celebrate Community.”
The second theme – suggested by the Mongillos – is diversity, and will feature flags from the many peoples – Syrians, Russians, Italians, Irish, Germans, Slavs – who populated the Sixth Ward during Oneonta’s railroad heyday.
(Former mayor Sam Nader calls the Sixth Ward “the League of Nations,” a reflection of the ethnic diversity there.)
The third theme, history, with a steam engine. The fourth theme, activity, with the image of a sports team, given the ward’s soccer fields, the Boys & Girls Club and other activities.
Mongillo, a gifted draftsman, helped devise the graphic concepts, which were further stylized via computer by Jarod Miller of Prolifiq, the sign company a few doors up from the Gilmores.
In all, there are posts for 42 banners, stretching from the South Main Street intersection to the turnoff by the Hampton Inn. They will be made of a kind of polyvinyl, and should withstand the elements for three or four years.
When she approached Verizon, whose poles she planned to use, she discovered they were too close to the street to hang banners: They have to be at least 3 feet from the pavement.
So a means was figured out to hang the banners over the sidewalk. The banners will be 18 inches wide and 36 inches long, and will be attached to a rod at the top and bottom.
The set-up is $8 per pole, and the Sixth Ward Athletic Club, that neighborhood mainstay, contributed the $400 for that.
To cover the banners themselves, she is looking for sponsors, whose names will then appear at the bottom of the banners. (Hometown Oneonta immediately signed on.)
The mother of three – stepson, Michael, OHS senior (and football player), and children Audrey, 10, and Sophie, 6, both at Valleyview Elementary – is confident sponsors will soon come forward.
For particulars, give her a call at 432-7894.
TO SPONSOR A BANNER, call Linda Gilmore at 432-7894 for particulars.
|Diversity and Community are two of the banners’ themes. The other themes are History and Activity.|