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Signs of the times
The Willows Chamber of Commerce is ready to roll on replacing the former parking limit signs with signs that reflect the city's long heritage.
The chamber unveiled the new design Tuesday to the Willows City Council, which will have the ultimate say on whether the signs go up.
The "Welcome to Historic Downtown Willows" sign is in the exact style and dimension as the parking limit signs removed in late December.
The sign was designed by downtown merchant Holly Myers, owner of The Gathering and the antique marketplace across the street.
"This is not a new concept," Myers said Friday. "It is something the merchants and the chamber have talked about for several years."
Myers said former Police Chief Bill Spears, now a councilman, "got the ball rolling" by taking the issue of the outdated and unenforced parking limits to the City Council before he retired.
The parking limits were implemented when the nature of the downtown was different.
Their removal, however, did leave about 30 "headless" poles for another purpose or until such a time parking limits are needed, officials said.
Chamber Director Rose Marie Thrailkill said even the postmaster and the businesses on Butte Street have now asked for their parking limit signs to come down and be replaced by the new Historic Downtown Willows signs.
"Once everyone sees them and how nice they are, and how nice it makes our downtown looks, I think they are going to like them," Thrailkill said.
Thrailkill said the Chamber of Commerce has agreed to purchase the signs at a cost of about $1,000.
"It is a marking plan," Thrailkill said. "We have to start somewhere. At least we are taking steps in the right direction."
Chamber and city officials say the project is a nice complement to the Walmart sign that is suppose to go up in the super store's lobby directing people to the historic downtown commercial core.
The sign was a condition of its 2005 use permit.
Walmart's sign will feature photographs of the Century home, post office, Civic Memorial Hall, Glenn County Court House, Willows Museum and the Masonic building.
Most of the buildings date back to the early 20th century or before, officials said.
Myers said downtown merchants have been trying to carve out a niche for themselves that will draw on people from outside the area.
Antiques and novelty shops seems to be working where other businesses have failed.
In addition, Thrailkill said the Chamber of Commerce is trying to do what it can to promote business on its limited resources.
The Chamber logged 1,584 contacts with the public in 2012, she said.
Of those, 571 were telephone calls, 624 were by e-mail and 389 were from people walking into the office during the 10 hours the Chamber is open each week.
"About two-thirds were business inquires and requests for maps and directories," she said. "One-third were for information about town events."
Thrailkill said the Chamber would like to work with the city on other projects, including the green light to the downtown proposed by Spears and the replacement of the banner poles on Sycamore Street.
The Willows City Council is expected to take action on the new signs at its Jan. 22 meeting.
Most of the member have already given the project a favorable response.