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Organizers push to expand 'blue light' tribute

CENTRAL POINT — Not long after the state of Oregon goes black Monday for the much-anticipated solar eclipse, organizers of last year’s “turn the town blue” effort hope to cast a sprawling blue aura over much of the region.

A regional effort to replace white bulbs in porch and garage lights is underway, with organizers hoping to have a noticeable blue bulb presence by Sept. 1.

Last year’s effort to encourage residents to replace outdoor porch and exterior lights with blue bulbs to show support for local law enforcement was initiated by new arrival Sandee Galligan, formerly of Colorado.

Galligan and her children came up with the blue light campaign shortly after a police-involved shooting in Baton Rouge and during a period of anti-law enforcement sentiment.

“It was basically the morning of the Baton Rouge shooting, and my daughters and I were talking about how much it sucks to be a law enforcement officer in today’s world,” said Galligan, a mother of three.

“It seems like there’s a huge target on their backs,” she said at the time.

Galligan paired up with community volunteer Debbie Saxbury, and the pair came up with the blue bulbs idea. Within days, local stores were selling out of the bulbs, and porch and garage lights throughout the city were casting an indigo hue.

Galligan said she was honored to see her idea expanding beyond the city this year and even more pleased that blue bulbs around the city had been left in place all year.

“Any kind of unity nowadays is nice to see,” she said. “Our officers deserve the recognition every day.”

Saxbury said she decided to try and push the idea beyond city limits this year after realizing that residents in outlying towns and cities were installing bulb bulbs such as those seen around Central Point.

“It was such a huge success last year, and everybody was so excited about it. When I drove through Medford, I saw a lot of blue lights there as well, so obviously the idea has picked up throughout the valley,” said Saxbury.

“This year we want to expand to all of Jackson County. Anybody else who would like to participate is welcome to do so. We’re going to promote it as a regional thing every year from now on.”

Saxbury said Central Point police were discussing flying a drone to record the display of blue lights in the city where it started and that the Medford Lowe’s store had ordered extra supplies of blue bulbs.

Central Point police Chief Kris Allison said the blue bulb display in place since last summer was a quiet boost of support for local police.

“We have lots and lots of blue lights in Central Point. It is a very visual and constant reminder that the officers who are out there, especially in the evening, have the support of the community. And that’s a big deal,” Allison said.

“We don’t get that all the time. and our officers a lot of times are dealing with people who are in crisis and maybe aren’t able to show their thanks at the time. It’s comforting to feel, every time they drive down a road or past a house and see it, that they absolutely know that they have the support of their community. It’s an ever-constant positive support,” he said.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com