ITHACA, NY – Tompkins County announced on Thursday that it is preparing a year full of events in celebration of the county’s bicentennial in 2017.

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199 years ago today, on April 7, 1817, Tompkins County was formed by an act of the New York State Legislature. Next year will mark the county’s 200 year anniversary.

In order to celebrate this milestone, the county put together a special Bicenentennial Commission, co-chaired by County Historian Carol Kammen and Tompkins Legislature Chair Mike Lane. Also on the commission were Rod Howe of the Tompkins History Center, Ray Wheaton and County Public Information Officer Marcia Lynch.

The goals of the bicentennial activities will be both to celebrate and to educate people about the county’s history and what the county as a governmental body does.

Left to right: Ray Wheaton, Marcia Lynch and Rod Howe, standing next to the Tompkins Bicentennial Logo, which was designed by Tompkins Cortland Community College graphic design student Zachary Kenyon under the mentorship of TC3 Assistant Professor Christine J. Shanks.” (Photo: The Ithaca Voice)
Left to right: Ray Wheaton, Marcia Lynch and Rod Howe, standing next to the Tompkins Bicentennial Logo, which was designed by Tompkins Cortland Community College graphic design student Zachary Kenyon under the mentorship of TC3 Assistant Professor Christine J. Shanks.” (Photo: The Ithaca Voice)

“Left to right: Ray Wheaton, Marcia Lynch and Rod Howe, standing next to the Tompkins Bicentennial Logo, which was designed by Tompkins Cortland Community College graphic design student Zachary Kenyon under the mentorship of TC3 Assistant Professor Christine J. Shanks.”

Here are some of the activities and initiatives the commission has planned thus far:

  • Celebrations in each of the county’s towns and the City of Ithaca, as well as one larger county-wide celebration
  • New commemorative cast-iron signs that explain some of the history of each of municipality, to be placed in locations of significance as decided by each municipality
  • An update and reprinting of brochures for each town, highlighting their individual histories
  • A series of video vignettes showcasing county employees and their work, to be followed by additional vignettes focusing on individual county departments and how they serve the community and how they have evolved over the years
  • a “State of the County” lecture to be held on the bicentennial date

The county, in collaboration with the Tompkins County Public Library, is also creating a project to map out the “Faces, Places and Spaces” that make the county special to people. This project will create virtual signs to denote places of significance across the county.

There is still a lot of time to plan, and the Bicentennial Commission is welcoming input from municipalities, groups and individuals throughout the Tompkins community. Those interested in proposing ideas or suggestions can email County Historian Carol Kammen at historian@tompkins-co.org.

To date, the county has allocated approximately $30,000 to these programs and will be setting aside additional funds in this years budget, according to Lane.

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.