The first Eclipse 2024 Community Planning Session recently was held to discuss what subcommittees are needed to plan for next year’s solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.
January Rutherford, public information specialist for the city of Seymour, led the April 12 meeting.
Duane Davis, director of the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency, said the eclipse will begin around 1:30 p.m.
“It is a slow process and will be completely over by around 3:30 p.m.,” Davis said. “Seymour will see the total eclipse for 3 to 4 minutes.”
Davis said there could be 80,000 to 100,000 people come to Jackson County to view the eclipse, leading to major traffic congestion.
Seymour Community School Corp. Superintendent Brandon Harpe said the district’s schools will have an elearning day on April 8 of next year. He said that will keep buses out of the traffic mix; however, they will need to find ways to get students involved with educational and fun activities that weekend and walkable sites for them on the day of the eclipse for viewing.
On the funding/resource acquisition subcommittee are Rutherford, Arann Banks with the Jackson County Visitor Center, Stacy Findley with the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department and Bri Roll with Seymour Main Street.
Those members will be working to figure out a budget and secure eclipse viewing glasses and portable toilets.
Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson said if the committee can present a budget to him, he can work on requesting funding from sources.
The subcommittee for public viewing site planning consists of Colin Smith and Victoria Taylor with Freeman Municipal Airport, Findley and Chad Dixon with the Seymour Department of Public Works.
They will be researching multiple viewing sites, parking, signage, volunteers, first aid, restrooms and traffic plans at the viewing sites.
The educational events planning subcommittee members are Julia Aker of the Jackson County Public Library and Harpe. They will plan speakers, interactive programs for youth and adults and event locations.
In charge of arts and entertainment are Dixon, Rutherford, Jane Hays with the mayor’s office, Roll, Banks and Jordan Richart with the visitor center.
Those committee members will work on securing food and craft vendors, activities, live music, portable toilets and picnic tables. They also will discuss possible locations and research lodging.
The traffic control/public safety subcommittee will be Seymour Assistant Police Chief John Watson, Davis, Nick Klinger with Jackson County EMA, Seymour Fire Department Chief Brad Lucas, Nate Bryant of Jackson County Emergency Medical Services and Seymour Police Chief Greg O’Brien.
Rutherford said this group will be coming up with a traffic plan for getting motorists in and out of the city and establishing first aid locations, reunification sites and a central information center.
“Traffic will be the No. 1 problem, but Seymour should be better off because of multiple ways to get in and out,” O’Brien said.
He also said signage and maps would be good to give people for routes in and out of town.
“We also need to find out what road projects will be going on at this time,” he said.
The marketing subcommittee so far consists of Rutherford, Richart, Shaney Smith with Seymour Main Street and Curt Nichols with 92.7 Nash Icon WXKU. These members will be publicizing the event and helping get website/social media going. Other members of the media plan to join the effort, too.
Many volunteers will be needed to make the activities surrounding the eclipse fun, safe and successful.
The next all-committee meeting is planned for 2 p.m. May 17 at Seymour City Hall.