Military banners move closer to reality
Chamber aims for Veterans' Day unveiling
BARSTOW • It’s a dream years in the making for a city with two military bases and a veterans home: lining main streets with banners to honor military service members.
The city budgeted $15,000 for the banners in its 2011-12 capital improvements budget, allowing the funds to be used during that fiscal year, which ended June 30.
But getting the banners off the ground has been easier said than done. The city shifted the effort to the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce, which took over the project in the spring, executive director Jeri Justus said.
Councilman Tim Saenz and Mayor Joe Gomez have both discussed banner proposals over the years, with Saenz introducing one when he joined the City Council in 2008. Saenz said he didn’t know why it had taken so long to research the proposal.
“I bet they’re doing a lot,” Saenz said, “but four years is a long time.”
Justus said the Chamber was working to install up to 50 banners along Barstow Road from Main Street to Barstow College. The Chamber plans to rely on local families to provide the names of soldiers. The banners will honor soldiers who grew up in Barstow, not soldiers from other areas who currently are stationed in the area, Justus said.
The Chamber is in the process of looking for a local company to produce the necessary flags and banners, Justus said.
Justus said that some other cities allow business sponsorships on the military banners, but the Chamber did not plan to use that method in Barstow.
When a soldier from Barstow leaves the armed forces, he or she will be able to receive a certificate from the mayor at City Hall and the soldier’s banner will be taken down and given to them to keep, Justus said.
“I think it’s a wonderful way to honor them,” Justus said.
The plan is for the banners to be up all year, Justus said. The Chamber will need to take precautions to ensure that the banners can withstand the area’s strong winds, she said, adding that Victorville removes its banners except during certain holiday periods for that reason.
The banners will be removed when they are replaced with Christmas-themed decorations, Justus said, but will be displayed all other times.
The city’s funding has allowed the Chamber purchase materials to mount the banners but will not pay for the banners themselves, Justus said. She said the Chamber is counting on donations from businesses or future city funding to cover the cost of the banners.
“Usually when it’s military, businesses and our city come together and they’ll do whatever it takes,” Justus said.