Six weeks into Columbia’s bicentennial year, Mayor Brian Treece laid out the first glimpse of a special, three-year celebration of the city's anniversary.

At Thursday’s news conference, Treece introduced the Mayor’s Task Force on Bicentennial Celebration Planning and the 10 members responsible for planning the city’s extended festivities. The task force will carry out Treece’s vision of a historical, educational and entertaining celebration.

“As much as we have grown — and some would say have grown apart — this bicentennial is a chance for us to come together to really celebrate and recognize that shared history of all of us and to remind the next generation of the last 200 years,” Treece said.

Treece said he and his task force intend to build permanent structures that will serve as continual reminders of Columbia’s history. One idea mentioned at the press conference involves exposing more of Flat Branch, creating open space and potentially developing an amphitheater.

Among the mayor’s task force are Eryca Neville and Ann Rogers. The mayor appointed Neville, principal of Douglass High School, to establish local history curriculum throughout Columbia public schools.

Rogers will bring legacy to the task force. Her relative, Hartley Hopson Banks, established the Columbia Savings Bank in 1886, and it continued to be a family-run institution in the city for 110 years.

The task force will have its first official meeting on Feb. 28. After discussing ideas and deciding on projects, it then will develop a budget and funding plan.

The mayor said they plan to work with the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, the Downtown Community Improvement District, the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau and various sponsors.

The task force stressed that all are encouraged to get involved in planning this celebration and coming up with event ideas.

Members said they hope to use websites and Facebook to connect with the community.

The task force members include:

  • Brent Gardner, chair
  • Pat Fowler, Historic Preservation Commission
  • Nate Brown, Reynolds Journalism Institute
  • Dr. Eryca Neville, Columbia Public Schools
  • Dr. Anne Deaton, University of Missouri
  • Chris Campbell, Boone County History & Culture Center
  • Tom Mendenhall, Downtown Community Improvement District
  • Deb Sheals, Downtown Community Improvement District
  • Ann Rogers
  • Amy Schneider, City of Columbia staff liaison

Columbia, which was originally named Smithton, was settled in 1818 but became the city of Columbia when it relocated down the hill to Flat Branch in 1821.

The separate settlement dates are the reason the city is planning a three-year celebration.

“There are two things we need to give our next generation,” Neville recalled a saying from a mentor. “The first one is roots. The second one is wings.”

And, she said, she hopes this project will give everyone an opportunity to better understand their roots so they can use their wings.

Supervising editor is Gary Garrison.

  • I'm a public life reporter for the Missourian, and I am a student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Reach me at (636) 577-6845 if you have story tips, ideas or complaints.

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