Several Ashland Police Department employees will be carrying a torch on a six-mile run to Talent as part of a statewide torch relay to raise funds for the Special Olympics.
Running on their own time, the employees are tentatively scheduled to leave the downtown Ashland plaza at 7 a.m. on Monday, July 11 and to run along Highway 99, APD Chief Terry Holderness said.
Other runners are invited to join the employees for all or part of the run.
Special Olympics torch run organizers ask participants to try and raise $50, Holderness said.
Some APD employees will run the full six miles, while others will run a few miles of the route, he said.
"We wanted it to be more of a team event. We'll start with our people who can run the whole six miles and the rest of us will join in for the last two or three miles," Holderness said.
The Medford Police Department and other law enforcement agencies are among those who will have personnel running legs of a route to get the torch from Talent to Central Point. The torch then will likely be driven to Grants Pass, Holderness said.
The torch is scheduled to arrive in Roseburg on July 11, the same day it leaves from Ashland, according to state organizers of the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
The statewide run, which will last until July 16, will have more than 800 participants this year, according to state organizers.
In 2010, the torch run reached as far south as Eugene.
"We're really excited to have the run expand down to Ashland and Medford," said Allison Ellermeier, vice president of development for the Special Olympics' Portland office.
The torch's final destination is a Newberg High School stadium just south of Portland, where Special Olympics athletes, coaches and law enforcement personnel will participate in opening ceremonies and a cauldron lighting for the Summer State Games, organizers said.
Rumors had circulated in the Rogue Valley that the city of Ashland was going to charge organizers a permit fee for the torch run, while other cities in the valley were not charging fees for the torch to pass through their communities. But Holderness said the rumor was based on a misunderstanding.
When the city of Ashland was first contacted about the torch run, it was going to charge a minimal permit fee. But city staff learned the torch run was not going to lead to any road closures or use up city staff time, Holderness said.
"The city said a permit is not necessary," he said.
Torch run organizers do have a permit from the Oregon Department of Transportation because much of the run will be on state highways, Holderness said.
The city of Ashland charges fees ranging from $130 to $1,000 for some events like parades and organized races, according to an interim schedule of fees adopted by the Ashland City Council on June 21.
The city waives fees each year for the town's annual Fourth of July festivities, Halloween parade, winter Festival of Light parade and Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. Earlier this month, the City Council voted to waive fees for a gay pride parade planned for this fall.
People who would like to take part in the Special Olympics torch run segment that starts in Ashland can contact APD Officer Steve MacLennan at 541-552-2433.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at email@example.com or 541-479-8199.