Though the temperatures have barely really started to heat up outside, Grayson County Holiday Lights is already set to make some changes for its 2019 Christmas-season run.
Since the county’s Head Elf Jeff Schneider is set to retire this month from his job as the county’s purchasing agent, the Holiday Lights Committee will also have to have a new leader.
That leader will be the woman who is stepping into Schneider’s shoes as purchasing agent for the county Jodi Platt.
Platt was hired back in April. Before Grayson County, she worked for Ellis County for six years.
By law, the county purchasing agent is appointed by the judges of the district courts. The person in that position buys all of the supplies, materials and equipment required by counties to run. The purchasing agent also negotiates all contracts for such materials and oversees the competitive bidding process for various contracts for goods and services. Once a year, the purchasing agent and the county auditor file a list of all of the property belonging to the county and its entities.
But the Grayson County Purchasing Agent has a little more work to had to that list — Holiday Lights leader. In the years since its inception, Schneider has been the man who worked to get things done from organizing volunteers to finding the best priced generators to helping the display move from generator power to electricity.
Schneider has had his hands in all of it right up to his elbows.
To be sure, there are other people who have been essential to the display’s continued run including retired Grayson County Judge Horace Groff who came up with the idea and procured grants from local foundations to purchase the first set of displays, former Howe Mayor Red Bledsoe who works tirelessly to gather donations and who worked to see the path for the display lengthened and former Denison Chamber of Commerce President Anna McKinney who kept the volunteer booth packed for many years.
And, the display would be just a mangled bunch of metal without the Grayson County maintenance staff who make sure everything shines brightly throughout the display’s run each year. But, Schneider was the one who worried over every last bulb each each year the display went up and counted those bulbs again when they came down. He was the one who found trades for old and broken displays or figured out how many new ones could be purchased with the profit from each year’s run.
Grayson County Holiday Lights is not run on taxpayer money. All of the money for the display comes from the donations taken up at the end of the display.
Platt said she knew nothing about the bright and shiny part of the job when she applied for the purchasing agent’s position. Though she has never been in charge of running a holiday light display, Platt said she has been in charge of planning for significant events and projects.
“I look forward to the challenge,” she said of stepping into the role of leading Holiday Lights. Since the leader of the lights has to start thinking about each year’s run in mid to late summer, she said she, luckily, has always really loved Christmas.
But that brings about the question of a new title for Platt. Schneider has said he will still be around Holiday Lights as it has held such a place in his heart all of these years, so he will remain the Head Elf. For Platt, though she didn’t really have a title in mind, said with a bit of a giggle that she enjoyed reading the ones suggested by the Herald Democrat including First Lady of the Lights, Captain Cheer or the Light Master.
“I had never really thought about it,” she laughed and said of the suggestion for a new title. But she is looking forward to be involved in the community event which brings thousands of people to Denison each year.
What do you think Platt’s new title should be. Let Criminal Justice Editor Jerrie Whiteley know at JWhiteley@HeraldDemocrat.com.