By Ron Munden – July 15, 2018

For the record I do not want to see Wonderland of Lights go away. I think it is a nice little local festival which should be preserved for the quality of life of the community. I do think it should be managed the way it was for the first 28 years – a volunteer lead 501c3 organization independent of the city’s direct management involvement.

Of course, this will not happen because Wonderland of Lights has become Marshall’s sacred cow.

“Sacred Cow” is defined as:

sa·cred cow
1. an idea, custom, or institution held, especially unreasonably, to be above criticism (with reference to the Hindus’ respect for the cow as a sacred animal).

On Thursday night four or five people went to the mike during the public comment part of the Marshall City Commission meeting and expressed their support for Wonderland of Lights. Their support fell into two categories:

1. It is Marshall’s brand. It is Marshall’s claim to frame.

2. Restaurants and retail merchants depend on WOL to stay in business and they contribute their increased sales in November and December to WOL.

I know sacred cows are above criticism and therefore my arguments will be rejected but the last time I checked this country still has a free press, so I will make my argument.

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Mt. Etna – April 28, 2018 – Sicily, Italy



By Tom Allin

Edmund knocked on our door early this morning to let us know they were off to the
airport and on to the Italian Adriatic Sea Coast. We weren’t up as early as these two
but I think we out of the hotel and on our way by 10:00 am.
Our plan was to drive along the coast to Messina, take the ferry to Villa San Giovanni,
and follow the coast north to Tropea. All went well for the first 45 minutes. Then
Google Maps told me to leave the highway which I thought strange but it has happen
before and sometimes with good results. I was a little slow in recognizing we are:
(a) no longer along the coast, (b) the road is only two lanes, and (c) Mt. Etna is no
longer on my left but more straight ahead.

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Archaeological Museum – April 27, 2018 – Syracuse, Sicily, Italy


By Tom Allin

OK, we have done an archaeological park, a Roman villa with outstanding mosaics so
it only makes sense today to do an archaeological museum. It’s a short walk from
the hotel – like across the street and down no more than a block.

As we were paying for our tickets about 50 young students began their tour of the
ground floor. The lady issuing our tickets wisely suggested we go down to the
basement floor and take a look at the coins – let the students get ahead of us. Me, I
am not big on looking at coins – spending yes.

Anyway, we head down stairs. First thing I noticed was the vault door we had to
walk through and the second was the glass door is locked and we have to wait for
museum employee to unlock the door and let us in. Once inside it is very apparent
why the security – lots of gold and silver coins. Each case has a magnifying glass for
your use because some of these coins are very small. Small in these coins may be a
third of the size of our dime and maybe smaller.

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Villa Romana del Casale (Roman Country Villa) – April 26, 2016 – Sicily, Italy


By Tom Allin

We got off to a relative early start this morning in spite of the typical Italian doubleparked car that almost had me hemmed in. With Edmund giving me directions I
backed out with an inch of open air on each side of the 4Runner.

It was a scenic two-hour drive to Villa Romana del Casale in central Sicily. The Villa
Romana del Casale is considered to contain the best in-situ Roman mosaics in the
world and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As some have already
deduced all you have to do is say Roman mosaics and Nancy and I are off to see them
no matter where they are located. The Roman mosaics are an art form I knew
nothing about until we began seeing them in Italy and the two of us immediately fell
in love with them.

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By Ron Munden

The two tourism murals installed by the CVB continue to fade as does the memories of Marshall’s failed tourism project.

I worked on the initial phase of the tourism project – selecting a consultant to develop a plan, coordinating the development of the plan and ensuring that the plan was approved by the City Commission. The effort started in 2006 and continued until the mid-2007.

Even though there was a constant battle between then City Manager Frank Johnson and the Task Force members were able to get the plan adopted in its entirety by the City Commission in mid-2007. On the night the City Commission approved the plan, Frank Johnson disbanded the Task Force. Firing all the member of the Task Force. This ended my and most other members of the Task Force involvement with Marshall Tourism Project. The tourism consultants recommended a six-month transition period for the management of the project to transition from the task force to the Brand Development Committee to ensure project continuity. Mr. Johnson action ensured that there was no transition and therefore a complete loss of continuity. In my opinion this was a fatal mistake.

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