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Town council meeting recognizes next Shepherdstown poet laureate, approves parades

By Staff | Mar 22, 2019

Shepherdstown Poet Laureate-elect Ed Zahniser, left, shakes hands with Mayor Jim Auxer, during the town council meeting on March 12. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Corporation of Shepherdstown’s Town Council had spring and summer on their minds, with a variety of announcements related to changes in community leadership roles and the weather.

First on the list of upcoming celebrations, was the town’s Easter Parade. Shepherdstown resident Carol Asam announced during the meeting that the parade would be similar to previous ones.

“There’s a hat contest for various ages and categories and dogs and couples. I’ve heard the merchants in town are being very generous with their donations for awards,” Asam said, before asking if there was a way for the parade organization committee to avoid paying for one-day insurance for the event. “In the attempt to save some money, if this is a town-sanctioned event, do we need to buy the very expensive one-day insurance?”

The town council agreed they needed a few days to find the answer to this question, promising Asam to respond to her question by the end of the week.

Updates are on the horizon for the town’s annual May Day event, which has included a parade and maypole celebration for many years. But, with the dissolution of the group of Morris dancers that formed the core parade group, the event has been simplified this year, to accompany the celebration of another spring holiday.

Carol Asam, of Shepherdstown, speaks to the town council during their monthly meeting, which was held on March 12 in the War Memorial Building. Tabitha Johnston

“We’re not going to have a parade, just the maypole, and we will do the town Arbor Day celebration at the same time,” said coordinator Wendy Maddox, who said the celebration will be on Shepherd University’s campus, rather than at the James Rumsey Monument and Park. “We’ll read the tree poem during the celebration, which is sponsored by Shepherdstown Music and Dance.”

Along with these events, the July Fourth Parade and 20th Annual Back Alley Garden Tour and Tea were discussed and approved for the respective dates of July 4 and May 18-19.

The big news of the evening followed these announcements, as Shepherdstown Poet Laureate Hope Maxwell Snyder explained why she was stepping down on May 1 from her role as poet laureate.

“It’s been a pleasure to serve Shepherdstown in this capacity. I’ve enjoyed it, its work, its responsibility. I decided for two reasons to step down and give other people the opportunity to serve,” Snyder said, before describing how the new poet laureate was decided upon. “This is the third time I nominated Ed Zahniser for this position, and this time, he was able to accept the nomination.”

For Zahniser, accepting the role of poet laureate is coming full-circle. Zahniser suggested the Corporation of Shepherdstown choose a poet laureate, to represent the poetry community in Shepherdstown. During his acceptance speech, Zahniser mentioned one change he plans to institute during his reign.

“We have a proposal for the town council, to institute a ‘poem in your pocket day’ on May 5. We hope people will carry a poem in their pocket and share it with anyone they meet,” Zahniser said. As far as activities, I will try to be involved with poetry groups around town, and just try to keep the town aware of how popular poetry is right now.”