Volunteers prepare to welcome Democratic contender for 'town hall'

and DAMIAN MANN


Dozens of volunteers gathered Friday at Kids Unlimited to get their instructions for Barack Obama's "Stand for Change" town hall meeting today, and campaign organizers scrambled to tie up loose ends.

The doors to Kids Unlimited, 821 N. Riverside Ave., will open at 7:30 a.m. Paulie Brading, chairwoman of the Jackson County Democratic Central Committee, said Friday she had heard some people planned to camp out overnight in line for the event.

Police have declined to release information about whether there will be street closures along the motorcade route. Several sources said Obama was expected to spend Friday night in Medford, but details could not be confirmed as of press time.

Organizers said that limited parking is available at Kids Unlimited, and some spaces will be reserved for people with handicapped parking permits.

The public also can park at the former J.J. North building at 1016 N. Riverside Ave., and on streets in nearby neighborhoods.

For security reasons, bags will not be allowed, and personal belongings should be limited, organizers advised. No signs or banners will be allowed, either.

Medford airport director Bern Case said no delays or additional restrictions are expected at the airport on today because no public events affiliated with Obama's visit are planned there.

Talia Mathias, normally a Kids Unlimited case manager and site director for the middle school program, was helping clean up the bleachers Friday to get ready.

"It's just part of the job," said Mathias, who is an Obama supporter. "It's for Kids Unlimited."

Executive Director Tom Cole said the organization will get $2,500 for renting the space to the Obama campaign.

"We're just happy to have it here," he said.

Cole said the Obama campaign heard about Kids Unlimited through a volunteer who used to go to the popular youth activities center.

Medford Fire Marshall Dan Patterson showed up at the center Friday to determine the maximum number of people who could fit into the building but still escape safely in an emergency.

He said 2,000 people could fit into the basketball court area where the town hall will be held, but another 700 could fit into the rest of the building.

"We feel confident people will be able to leave safely if there is an emergency," he said.

For those who can't attend, local television stations will broadcast the event live. Coverage on KOBI Channel 5 is set to start at 9:30 a.m. KTVL Channel 10 will start coverage between 9:15 and 9:30 a.m. and will return to the NCAA basketball tournament coverage at 11 a.m. KDRV Channel 12 will start live coverage at about 9:15 a.m. RVTV, community television linked with Southern Oregon University, will offer live coverage from 9 until 10:30 a.m. on Channel 15 and will rebroadcast the town hall meeting several times in the coming week on Channel 14.

Online at www.mailtribune.com, Hooked on Politics blogger Gary Nelson, editorial page editor at the paper, will blog live from the event. An on-demand video of the entire town hall meeting will be available later in the day.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.