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Local residents Hedda King and Jeanne Zerbe initiated the Wishing Upon a Wish Stick project in January to bring customers into local businesses

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - Hedda King stands by several of the Wish Sticks in front of the Crook County Courthouse. King and Jeanne Zerbe initiated the project, and on Friday, they were working on moving some of the Wish Sticks around town to spread them out.Prineville residents Jeanne Zerbe and Hedda King prefer to dominate the golf course when the weather allows, and they are a team to contend with—whether on or off the golf course.

When the year 2020 began to wind down, the two friends were looking for something to fill their time and took it upon themselves to spread some cheer. They wanted to help local businesses and came up with the idea of City of Wishes. The project consisted of "Wishing Upon a Wish Stick," which consisted of placing Wish Sticks around town, and a wishing box inside businesses for customers to add their wishes.

The idea was made possible by an anonymous donor, making it possible to offer a $1,000 "wish" to the winner of a drawing later in the month of January—in addition to supplies to make the project possible. In addition, Associates Real Estate donated another $1,000 to the project for a second drawing from the wish boxes.

Zerbe commented that the wish sticks were her idea, and she and King bought and then created the wish sticks in her woodshop. The wish sticks consist of a large star at the top of a pole in front of local businesses on Third Street. The women enlisted the assistance of their local ukulele group—which is made up of half a dozen members—to help paint the stars and boxes.

"One of the ideas is to stimulate people to go into businesses around town this time of year, because this usually such a slow time of the year for the local businesses," commented Zerbe.

She added that most of the local businesses have been positive about the idea, including Norm Smith of Norm's Xtreme Fitness Center.

"Norm was so positive, and as an old Marine, he just jumped on it," Zerbe commented of Smith. "He grabbed a couple and said, 'I will paint them,' and sure enough, he was the first one to have them done. That kind of inspired us."

"I think it's a wonderful idea," noted Smith. "They looked at 2020, and they said, 'anything has got to be an improvement, so we are going to give away $1,000 to anybody that puts their name in and has a wish to make an improvement in the past year.'"

He said that the reason he put his own name in the box was so he can fast forward it to the Boys and Girls Club if his name is drawn.

"What a wonderful way to start the year off," concluded Smith.

The wish sticks were painted and placed in the flagpole holders on Third Street on Jan. 4—with the blessing of the City of Prineville and the Band of Brothers—in front of businesses. The purpose of the project is to strengthen the community through art and camaraderie by visually displaying creations made by community members of all ages.

The wish sticks were handed to businesses, high school art students and the general public to decorate any way that they would like. Zerbe and King gave out between 125 and 150 sticks. Sixty went to two high school classes, including the art class at Crook County High School. The remainder were given to businesses.

"We didn't have any business turn us down. It was really very well received," remarked King.

She added that every business that participated also received a wish box to place inside their store. Residents can place a wish in any box for a possibility to win $1,000 towards their wish. The wish sticks and wish boxes will be out for the month of January. On Jan. 29, the boxes will be picked up, and on Jan. 30, they will draw for two, $1,000 wishes.

"The names are going to be drawn by Steve Forrester, the city manager," added King. "He is going to do the actual drawing in front of the City Hall on Saturday the 30th."

She noted that anyone can drop off their wish in a box around town—as many times as they would like. Even employees of businesses can put a wish in a box.

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Residents can place their "wish" with their contact information in any participating wish box in town until Jan. 29. Anyone can place as many wishes as they would like.

The drawings for "wishes" will be Jan. 30 in front of City Hall. Drawing will be done by Steve Forrester. Each wish drawn will be awarded $1,000.


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