Expect the downtown streets to sport a little different look this holiday season.

During Monday’s regular meeting, Palestine City Council members agreed with city Public Works Director Ron Sullivan’s assessment that many of the city’s Christmas wreaths and other decorations had seen better days and need replacing.

“We’re strictly talking about the downtown decorations,” Sullivan said, not the city Christmas tree displayed outside the Palestine Visitors Center or decorations at city hall.

Several council members and Mayor Carolyn Salter voiced their concern that the city should look its best with thousands of visitors expected to come through Palestine to ride the Polar Express trains, which will be departing from the Palestine depot of the Texas State Railroad. In addition, the annual Christmas parade will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 from the Anderson County Courthouse to the visitors center.

“It would be downright un-American not to do anything,” council member Jim Yelverton said.

Council member Steve Presley, who also is president of the Texas State Railroad Rail Authority, agreed that the city should decorate for the holidays to put on a festive face for the community and for visitors coming to see one of the state’s newest Main Street cities and to ride the trains.

“If we have no decorations downtown, it’s not going to demonstrate well,” Presley said. “We’re spending a lot of effort and money to attract those tourists to the City of Palestine. If we don’t give them a reason to come back, they may not.”

Just relying on the banners displayed around downtown to tell visitors that efforts are being made to improve the downtown won’t be enough, he warned.

“We have to have something,” Presley said. “Really, it would be in our best interests to some kind of decorations up.”

Not replacing worn-out decorations would send the wrong message, Yelverton said.

Council member Andrea Baird, who also is president of Keep Palestine Beautiful, said she would look into what her organization might be able to do to help with decorations. Salter suggested that perhaps Keep Palestine Beautiful and the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce, which is headed by council member Kathi Masonheimer, could get together to discuss possible involvement.

As the item was listed on the council’s agenda only as a report, not an action item, no action could be taken Monday night, other than to direct city staff to look into what the city could afford to spend to replace decorations, and what the best options would be for the money at this point in November.

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Beth Foley may be contacted via e-mail at bfoley@palestineherald.com

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