Towns looking for lights

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The house along South Adams in Hilsboro exemplifies the beauty of exterior Christmas lighting that several communities are encouraging through incentives and prizes. Malinda Just / Free Press

Residential neighborhoods in various Marion County communities will be lit for Christmas?some with help from city incentives or decoration contests.

Both Hillsboro and Marion employ city incentives to encourage residents to decorate for the holidays.

In Hillsboro, residents who decorate with at least a double strand of outdoor lights will receive a $10 rebate off of their February utility bill.

?It sort of pulls us all together,? said Mona Hein, city billing clerk. ?It?s just fun to drive around town and see all the houses lit up.?

Hillsboro residents planning to participate need to sign up at city hall from Dec. 3 through 17 in order to qualify for the rebate.

The city of Marion also offers a rebate to residents who decorate outdoors for the Christmas season.

Participants who sign up between Dec. 1 through 21 will receive credit off their January utility bill.

?It promotes the holiday and it?s just a good way to get everyone to join in and do it,? said Becky Makovec, Marion city treasurer. ?When people come to town to drive around, it looks very nice when all the houses are done up.?

Three Marion County communities?Burns, Goessel and Peabody?use community-wide home decorating contests to encourage outdoor decorations.

The contest in Burns will be judged Thursday, Dec. 13. The winners will be announced at the Dec. 15 Christmas party. First, second and third place homes will receive awards.

Goessel will get in the Christmas spirit through a home decorating contest sponsored by the Goessel Task Force.

To participate, residents need only to hang Christmas lights in time for a drive-by judging Saturday, Dec. 22. A $50 cash prize will be awarded to the winning home.

Peabody?s Holiday Decor House Decorating contest will begin in conjunction with the second-annual community Christmas event, ?Bells, Boots and Buggies.?

The community will vote for its favorites in three categories: traditional, contemporary and overall.

?Last year we did a house decorating contest, but it was with three anonymous judges,? said Kristen Hooper, Peabody Main Street director. ?The community really came out and decorated.

?Peabody was really well lit and it was wonderful. We?re hoping to get that same response this year.?

The winners of each of the three categories will receive $50 in Peabody Bucks to spend at local businesses.

Individuals wanting to vote can pick up ballots at Peabody State Bank, Peabody Lanes and city hall. The ballots can be returned to Peabody Lanes or city hall. Those who return ballots to Peabody Lanes can receive a special bowling offer: bowl one game, get the second game free.

The contest is sponsored by Legacy Park, Peabody Economic Development and Peabody Main Street.

?(We do the contest) just to add a little bit more fun to it,? Hooper said. ?We do this contest almost as a reward for people. People already decorate and it just gives them a little bit more incentive to go above and beyond what they?re already doing.?

Bank adds to Lehigh blessing

As Christmas continues to approach, the story about lighting Lehigh, as reported in last week?s Free Press, continues to develop.

Thanks to an $800 donation by Emprise Bank and smaller donations from Lehigh residents?and even a $50 donation from an elderly couple in Norton?Lehigh will be able to purchase the electrical receptacles needed to light the town?s newly acquired used Christmas decorations.

?I happened to be reading the paper at home and saw where Lehigh was trying to put up Christmas lights and they were $800 short,? said Bob Watson, Emprise community bank president in Hillsboro. ?It sounded like they had gotten lights decorated and a lot of people were kicking in.

?I just thought, we?ve had a lot of customers from the Lehigh area over the years, and it would be maybe something worthwhile to help them with that project. Kind of a way to say thank you to the community and our customers.?

Watson will present a check to the Lehigh City Council at its Dec. 10 meeting.

According to Lehigh resident Ruth Coyle, who spearheaded the lighting Lehigh initiative, the donations are added blessings to an already blessing-filled project.

?Everything that has happened has just been blessings all over the place,? she said. ?I?m just really, really, really grateful.?

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