Bob Watson with the Newberry American Legion presented the Newberry City Commission with the outline for the “Welcome Home Afghanistan Veterans” daylong celebration scheduled for Sept. 25.
“When I came home from Vietnam, I got anything but a welcome―it was not nice,” Watson said. “So I wanted to do something with our vets coming home to make them feel welcome.”
Watson said he also wants to connect veterans with the resources needed to get back into society and also have a good time. While many of the details change from day to day, the celebration will start at 10 a.m. on Sept. 25 with a parade in downtown Newberry.
Mayor Jordan Marlowe will serve as grand marshal and the Teen Watermelon Queen, Lauren Roberts, will ride in a convertible. The rest of the parade will feature 10 classic cars, the American Legion bike riders, military vehicles from the National Guard Division 631 from Starke and floats.
After the parade, citizens can attend the continued celebration at the Clark Plantation starting at noon, featuring food trucks, information booths, bands, kids events and raffles.
Marlowe will speak at the plantation along with Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson.
The event will also raise funds for various veterans organizations.
Also at its Monday meeting, the Newberry commission recognized the 14 & Under Newberry Babe Ruth softball team. The squad won both the district and state titles, earning a spot in the Babe Ruth Softball World Series hosted in Treasure Coast this past July.
The team finished fifth in the nation and was the only squad in the tournament to defeat the eventual champions, Millville, 2-1, in pool play.
“We always like to celebrate when our youth does so well,” Marlowe said. “That’s amazing; good job.”
The commission also approved using the $17,000 it received as a refund from Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light (FPL) to reduce Newberry citizens monthly bill.
The money will be divided by Newberry’s number of customers for a one-time bill reduction by lowering the power cost adjustment for that month.
City Manager Mike New said the city gets a refund like this every couple of years because Duke Energy and FPL slightly overcharge the cost of transferring energy from South Florida to the city.