The Portsmouth 375th Anniversary planning committee met at the public library tonight, and as with previous sessions, the group of about 20 residents, business people, and town officials dug right in to the work of planning next year's events and activities.
But the first order of business was a big "thank you" to Tom Roskelly, who developed a beautiful logo for the celebration — you can pop over to the Portsmouth 375 web site to take a peek. Committee chair Doug Smith said, "We owe him a big debt of thanks."
There were reports from the co-chairs with significant updates on fundraising where co-chair Jane Roggero reported on progress toward a first round of t-shirts (if you're a local business and want your name on the back, drop her an e-mail), finance co-chairs Molly Magee reported that there have already been more than $2,800 in donations, and parade co-chair John Lane McMahon reported on the broad outreach effort to round up bands from across the state. The thinking at this point is that it may be possible to combine the Portsmouth High School Homecoming parade with a 375th celebration to anchor a key weekend of events.
Also on hand were Town representatives. Portsmouth school Supt. Lynn Krizic, who said that she was talking with staff in the district to explore speakers, writing contests, and other ideas. "We're committed to helping celebrate this significant milestone," said Krizic. "We're very excited about it."
Town Administrator John Klimm said that he and the staff at Town Hall are working to raise awareness. "I don't think an hour passes on any day that i don't mention the Portsmouth 375th," he said, noting that he's asking every committee and department how they might participate. He even pitched the idea of creating a volunteer delegation to travel to Portsmouth, England (at their own expense, of course) to invite the Lord Mayor personally to a major event.
Dr. Kathy Abbass of the RI Marine Archaeology Project shared with the group some of their work on Fort Butts that might dovetail with the 375th celebration. They've kicked off a five-year effort to fund a major cleanup of the location with an eye to making it an active tourist attraction.
Next meeting (which is of the smaller steering committee, but anyone is welcome to come) will be October 4, 5pm in the Portsmouth public library. "Our job is not just to celebrate," said Smith, "Our job is to get everyone in Portsmouth involved."
Full disclosure: I am a member of the steering committee.