Hoping to inspire more people to community service, the City of Sun Prairie is requesting city residents to volunteer on July 10, 2019 to mark the one-year anniversary of the tragic natural gas explosion in downtown Sun Prairie.

During the June 18 Sun Prairie City Council meeting, District 2 Alder Theresa Stevens suggested that individuals or groups conduct service projects such as food drives for the Sun Prairie Emergency Food Pantry. She said she will be involved in a card making project at the Sun Prairie Municipal Building, located at 300 E. Main St. The cards made will be distributed to public emergency service personnel to thank them for their service.

Abby Barr, widow of the late Capt. Corey Barr killed in the explosion that also injured three people including a Sun Prairie Police sergeant and a Sun Prairie firefighter, thanked everyone connected with the support she and her family have felt during the past year. She also thanked the council and the Sun Prairie Fire Department for its help and support since the death of her husband, and said the day of service would be an honorable way to remember her husband (see her comments in their entirety in the Videos section at sunprairiestar.com).

Fire Chief Chris Garrison — joined by fellow chiefs Brian Teasdale from the Sun Prairie Police Department and Brian Goff from Sun Prairie EMS — said he believed the day of service would be an appropriate way to remember Barr.

Abby Barr and her two daughters, as well as the emergency services personnel, received applause. Barr received a proclamation from the mayor in honor of the Day of Service. Mayor Paul Esser requested other city residents to conduct the day of service in Corey Barr’s honor.

Juneteenth proclamation

The second of two proclamations presented during the meeting, Juneteenth honored the African-American Independence Day — as Esser put it — and the celebration that had taken place earlier that day at Vandenburg Park.

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, declaring the slaves in Confederate territory free, paving the way for the passing of the 13th Amendment which formally abolished slavery in the United States of America. On June 19, 1865, the announcement of the abolition of slavery was made in the U.S. state of Texas by Major General Gordon Granger, and more generally the emancipation of enslaved African Americans throughout the former Confederate States of America; thus emancipating the last remaining chattel slaves in the U.S.

Since 1865, 45 states and the District of Columbia have come to recognize and observe June 19, Juneteenth, as a state holiday — including Wisconsin. On Dec. 1, 2009, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle signed into law Senate Bill 170, a bill that designates June 19, Juneteenth Day, as a legal holiday.

The proclamation declares June 19 to be Juneteenth and African American Independence Day (watch the presentation in the Videos section at sunprairiestar.com).

Council OK’s property purchases

Acting on previously approved closed session actions by the Committee of the Whole, alders approved the Purchase and Sale Agreement for 402 E Main Street and 109-111 Vine Street

A memo contained in the council packet states the Committee of the Whole met in closed session on May 21 to discuss the purchase of 402 E Main St. and 109-111 Vine St.

The purchase of the nearly half-acre site is to facilitate redevelopment in Downtown Sun Prairie.

Staff negotiated a formal offer for $312,000 and is contingent on an independent environmental review of the property as it is a closed brownfield site with ongoing monitoring obligations by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

City Council President Bill Connors told the council the purchase will allow the city to control what happens in terms of development on the site.

Alders may seek requests for proposals in the future to develop the sites as part of downtown redevelopment.

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