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January 17, 1995

Mrs. Robert Sanders, a relative newcomer to our fair city, is one of the most enthusiastic members of the Perry Development Coalition's Tourism Committee. Mr. and Mrs. Sanders moved here about 18 months ago after retiring from their farm near Joplin, Mo. Three of their children live in Edmond and another lives in Catoosa, in the Tulsa area. The Sanders' wanted to live nearer their offspring, so they began a systematic search for just the right place. Why did they choose our town? "We were just so impressed with everyone's friendliness here, and we especially noticed how courteous the teen-agers are," she says. The proximity to Edmond and Tulsa was just right so they settled here, and they couldn't be happier. Although Perry is still new to them, Mrs. Sanders says she feels like she's come back home. She was reared in the Wichita area, about 100 miles from here.

At a meeting of the Tourism Committee the other night, Mrs. Sanders listened with interest to plans for relocating the old Episcopal church building. Since being moved from the original site near Seventh and Grove, the historic building has been resting temporarily on blocks at Sixth and Fir while awaiting a permanent location. In an offhand remark, Mrs. Sanders described the historic old building as "the church-on-a-perch," and other committee members liked the term so well that it stuck. At least until the old church is placed on a permanent location someday.

Another project being kicked around by the Tourism Committee is a plan to lure sizable numbers of motorists off I-35 highway long enough to swing through Perry. Strategically placed billboards near both the north and south Perry access roads would invite tourists and others to "Make the Perry Loop." Northbound motorists would exit on U.S. 64, proceed east past the Department of Transportation division headquarters, into the downtown area for a trip around the square, then to depart on Fir past the Ditch Witch factory to get back onto 1-35. The route would be reversed for southbound traffic./p>

Brochures will be needed for those who choose to "make the loop," with a schematic map of the city showing places of interest to check out while here. These would include historic business buildings and residences, the Perry Carnegie library, YMCA, our first-class hospital, schools, restaurants, motels, the beautiful courthouse square with its "Hopes and Dreams" Centennial statue, antique and crafts centers, and the many other unique things to see.

Committee members concluded that the loop itself is already here, but we have to devise a means of calling it to the attention of the thousands of motorists who travel along I-35. The plan is still in the embryonic stage, but it could be the fast building block in the foundation of a badly needed strategy to capture tourist interest in our town.

Still another matter under consideration is the creation of a "mini-park" in the downtown area where visitors could pause for a few moments to contemplate their next move, or just to rest and take a brief break. An important part of this would be some kind of public rest rooms, perhaps self-cleaning units, to add to the refreshing aspects of the stop. Most American cities are woefully short of good, clean public rest rooms, and it would be nice if Perry could come up with some thing of this sort.

David Dolezal, the newly elected county assessor, is chairman of the Tourism Committee, working closely with the co-directors of the Perry Development Coalition, Betty Warner and Karen Wilcox. The committee welcomes ideas and assistance from anyone interested in this type of community planning, so give them your comments. The Coalition office is in the Foucart building on the east side of the square, sharing space with the Chamber of Commerce.