Cooperation emerges in rival OCC groups on Scarecrow plans

       Shoppers shouldn't see an obvious difference in this fall's Old Colorado City Scarecrow Days because, as in past years, there will likely be scarecrows outside stores and on street corners, banners on light poles and a Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off in the midst of it all.

A new etched-stone sign facing westbound traffic on Colorado Avenue at 24th Street identifies Old Colorado City as a national historic district and lists the 1859 date when the original town of Colorado City was founded. The sign was placed by the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District.
Westside Pioneer photo

       What they won't know is that those those niceties wouldn't come to pass if not for a newfound level of cooperation between two rival business groups that usually go their separate ways.
       The situation developed because the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) board decided not to put on Scarecrow Days this year - instead, it's planning an Oktoberfest for fall 2011, according to OCCA President Don Wick. However, the OCCA does want to keep sponsoring the pumpkin event. At the same time, the other Old Colorado City business group, the Historic District Merchants of Old Colorado City (HDM), wants to keep Scarecrow Days going. Its members let the OCCA know that, and the OCCA board agreed this week to turn that event over to them.
       As part of the new arrangement, the OCCA will put up special banners - made by the OCCA seven years ago, before its internal split last November - that say “Old Colorado City” and “Scarecrow Days” and let HDM use the scarecrows and related effects that are now in OCCA storage.
       “It's kind of a shared event,” Wick said. “It's a nice move in the right direction.”
       Nancy Stovall, representing the HDM, said the group is “happy to take over Scarecrow Days and do this for the merchants. I think it's an opportunity for two organizations to do what's good for the historic district and the public.”
       She added her expectation that the HDM will start Scarecrow Days a little later in the season - late September instead of the usual mid-September. “We're going to tie it in with the pumpkin thing and Halloween,” she said.
       Still to be determined is where the Weigh-off will occur. Including last October, when the OCCA was still the only business group in the commercial area, the event has always occurred in the Old Town Plaza parking lot. However, in November OCCA fired its long-time accountant whose office is in Old Town Plaza (and who now works with HDM), and since then the OCCA has not used the plaza for any of its events.
       Wick said this week the OCCA has not yet asked the plaza's governing board for permission to have the Giant Pumpkin event there. Stovall said she thinks that if he does, he will get an OK.
       The HDM is led by Stovall and Bernideen Canfield, who resigned as members of the OCCA board last November after disagreeing with the majority over two personnel issues (regarding the accountant as well as the person who was then coordinator of Territory Days), plus the majority's plan to retain a marketing director despite budget concerns).
       The HDM formed with the goal of representing merchants specifically and using Old Colorado City's historic style in its promotions. This was partly in response to the OCCA board's decision earlier in 2009 to spread out geographically and to seek out all kinds of business, retail and otherwise.
       Wick became president in April after the former president, Charlie Irwin, stepped down for personal reasons.
       Wick said this week that the board has recently been having discussions in which members are “talking about changing the paradigm of how the OCCA runs,” and that this involves “rethinking our position and how we could be spending our money in a more efficient manner.” He said he could not be more specific because the board has not taken action on the matter yet (but probably will do so in September).
       The discussion follows what Wick described as a “mutual parting of the ways” between the OCCA and its marketing director for the past two years, Seiko Tran, as of Sept. 1. “We appreciated everything he did. He was an excellent employee,” Wick said, adding his impression that Tran's work with OCCA has probably been beneficial to him in his own marketing business.

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