Friday, November 2, 2007

General Electric Enables Celebration

Bentonville Parks Department employees are busy working this week stringing up new strands of white lights around the downtown square and the Confederate Monument for the city’s Winter Wonderland celebration, which will kick off on November 17.

“G. E.’s happy to give back to the town that gives so much to us,” said Steve Hacala, a management employee of General Electric. When Brenda Compton of Downtown Bentonville approached Hacala with the idea of donating lights to the square, G. E. gladly responded — by purchasing $2,000 worth of new lights for the city to string and burn for six weeks. In some area cities, the city government spends tax dollars for decorative light bulbs, saying it promotes economic development, but no local businesses donate time or money.

The annual Lighting of the Square ceremony, celebrated for 20 years in Bentonville, will be held at 5: 30 p. m. According to a story in the Benton County Daily Record, Mayor Bob McCaslin will turn on the voltage for the city’s “gazillion mega-killowatts of light” to kick off the holiday season. There was no mention of whether Mayor McCaslin would attend the ceremony to end the festivities and pay the electricity bill in January.

The lights on the Bentonville square first appeared when State Representative Horace Hardwick (R-Bentonville) was an employee of General Electric and pushed the idea of putting lots of electric light bulbs on the square 20 years ago. Fayetteville followed five years later, before sustainability became such a popular buzz word among area businesses, educators, and politicians.

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