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Medford committee on Public Safety.

When the United States finally declared war against Germany in April, 1917, the entire country sprang into activity, and entered eagerly into ways and means for ‘preparedness.’ The nation went into one vast committee of the whole, subdivided into national, state, city, town, village, and hamlet branches. These organizations bore the expressive and comprehensive title of Committee on Public Safety.

Medford's committee was organized in April, 1917. [p. 81] The general committee was composed of three hundred and twenty-five members, with an executive committee of nine. Mr. Irwin O. Wright was elected chairman and much of the successful work of the committee has been due to his wise patience and tactful judgment.

The following sub-committees were created: finance, co-ordination of aid societies, food production and conservation, publicity, hygiene and medicine, transportation, home guard, recruiting.

All work is done under the following declaration: ‘The declared purpose is to serve the people of Medford in all matters incident to the war that do not come within the scope of the regularly constituted national, state or city goverment.’

The expenses of the work for the first months was defrayed by voluntary contributions of the public. This was the plan followed by most of the cities and towns, many places giving thousands of dollars for the purpose. The second year Medford's city government made an appropriation to carry on the work of the committee, having a regular office, with a paid secretary and assistant, the purpose of the executive committee being to make the office a clearing house for the varied war activities. Mr. James A. Cotting was elected secretary, and Miss Alice Bearse assistant. In the absence of actual hostile emergencies, which as yet have not been thrust upon us, the Committee on Public Safety has taken up the more immediate local needs of the community: food, fuel, public health, liberty loans, information regarding Medford soldiers, etc.

The winter of 1917-18 will long be remembered as one of intense severity. Coupled with the cold weather was a scarcity of coal, and the local fuel committee was obliged to issue coal cards for one hundred pounds each, in order to secure an equitable distribution. Towards twenty thousand of these cards were issued. During the past summer the State assumed control of sugar. For preserving purposes, cards for twenty-five pounds or less [p. 82] were given on application at the public safety office. More than five thousand cards were issued.

It is the purpose of the office to keep in touch with all matters of public interest and welfare. It works under the authority of the State and is the medium through which the wishes and commands of the State commissions are promulgated.

Mr. Cotting severed his connection with the committee in July last, to enter Y. M. C. A. work over seas. The present secretary is Charles H. Loomis.

C. H. L.

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