|
|
|
The Carthage Press
  • Crowd grows as CPD officers begin patrols at Marian Days

  • With more and more people crowding into the area around the Congregation of the Mother Coredemptrix for the 37th annual Marian Days, Carthage and area police officers started on Tuesday their 24-hour patrols to maintain order and safety for the massive tent city that is building.
    • email print
  • With more and more people crowding into the area around the Congregation of the Mother Coredemptrix for the 37th annual Marian Days, Carthage and area police officers started on Tuesday their 24-hour patrols to maintain order and safety for the massive tent city that is building.
    Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan said he's been told by the fathers at the CMC to expect larger crowds than last year, when Dagnan estimated that 70,000 people attended the event.
    "We estimated 70,000 people last year and there are more people showing up earlier," Dagnan said. "There are a lot more parish or church tents, so I really don't know how many people to expect, but it's definitely going to exceed 70,000."
    Dagnan said many of the now-empty larger tents lining Grand and Fairview streets are set up by the fathers to house entire churches or parishes that travel to Marian Days as groups and pay a fee to stay together.
    Safety inspections
    Dagnan said city fire and building code inspectors were going through the commercial tents on Wednesday inspecting structural integrity and electrical service for safety problems.
    Dozens of churches set up food and other commercial tents at Marian Days as fundraisers for their groups.
    Dagnan said the event has an economic impact on the city as well.
    "The economic impact is very big at the big retail stores," he said. "A lot of folks come in and forget things or they just want to go somewhere where it's cool and go shopping. Some people come in and buy everything they need instead of bringing it. The shelves will be empty at those stores by the end of the event, so it's a big impact."
    Dagnan and Carthage Fire Chief Chris Thompson led a tour for reporters on Wednesday morning to show them the grounds and locations of other places of interest.
    State lawmakers from around the area took the same tour from Dagnan and Thompson on Wednesday afternoon.
    Cost
    Dagnan said the city budgets between $45,000 and $50,000 for emergency services for the tent city of about 60,000 to 70,000 people that springs up over a week period in the middle this city of 15,000.
    Dagnan said he hires officers from Joplin, Jasper County and the smaller Jasper County cities to come in and help patrol the area over the course of the event.
    "Starting at 1 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday) we're here 24 hours a day," he said. "We start with two officers, but by Saturday night we're usually around 40 officers. Everyone you see here on the ground now is usually gone by noon on Sunday, so at noon on Sunday we pack it up and go back to normal."
    Carthage's city command bus is parked in the parking lot of the Carthage Salvation Army, along with other police, fire and ambulance vehicles to serve as a command post for safety and security services.
    Page 2 of 2 - Parking
    Dagnan said the event lost some space for parking when the Carthage school district started building the new early childhood center on Fairview Avenue east of the CMC grounds, so for the first time, he will assign officers to help park vehicles on Friday night and Saturday night to try to maximize the space still available.
    "There are a lot of people who don't camp here, they choose not to camp here, they stay in hotels and then they come in here for the seminars an masses on Friday and Saturday night, so we're hoping we can get as many of those people on the grounds as we can," Dagnan said. "If we don't, they park in the neighborhoods and that does cause some problems. They block fire hydrants, driveways, that sort of thing, so we really want everyone on the grounds as much as possible."
    He said starting today, officers will begin strictly enforcing no parking zones within the camping and vending areas to keep paths clear for access by emergency vehicles in case of emergency.
    Complaints
    Dagnan said the city does get complaints about the event, but he tries to head off those complaints as much as possible.
    "Everyone who lives in this area, we contact them ahead of time, we see what their desires are, if they want people on their property or not, if they want people camping on their property or not," he said. "We try even to the point of getting contact phone numbers for them and giving them a resident pass so they can get in and out of the area, all they have to do is wave it and they get in and out as they wish. So we really try to take care of those complaints ahead of time. Most of the people who live here, they get it, they live here, they're going to have to deal with this. Do we still get complaints? Yes, and it's particularly when there is no parking and people are parking 10 blocks away from here and blocking people's driveways and things like that."

        calendar