Missing flags start IR debate

IRON RIVER—The regular monthly meeting of the Iron River City Council on June 19 was punctuated by an extended public comment section, where it was revealed that the city will not be able to mount flags along city streets in the near to medium term, directly impacting both Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
    Soon after the meeting begun, AMVETS Post Director Frank Jirik stood up. Jirik began by complementing City Manager David Thayer for his efforts to restore the city’s World War II memorial monument on Genesee Street. He then continued to make a statement in regard to Memorial Day; other residents, during that event, had noticed that flags were not attached over the road at that time.
    He concluded his time on the floor by saying that there was a general sense of disappointment over this, and that the flag is symbolically key to remembering the sacrifices U.S. soldiers have made over time, hoping that it would be up during future events. After Jirik concluded his remarks, Mike Peterson from the Iron County Veterans Affairs Committee also stood up and directly asked the council members present why flags had not been posted for Memorial Day along the road.
    Thayer took the question. He said back in the spring, the Downtown Development Authority had a focus to set up banners along the road in order to attract tourists to the city. Much of the energy for roadside-mounted display work in the DDA exclusively focused on the banners, although their delivery and installation ended up being delayed despite these efforts.
    After they had arrived, it was discovered that the banner holders conflicted with the flag holders that were previously utilized. This discovery was made in tandem with observations by the city that the flags used in those holders were themselves in poor repair.
    Thayer went on to state that conversation about flags on lamp posts had escaped consideration, going so far as to say that there was “really was no conversation” about that item at all during the DDA’s roadside efforts earlier in the year. He stated that he was more immediately con-
cerned at the time about the state of the flag in front of city hall, which had been replaced, and other larger flags such as the one at the cemetery.
    After Thayer had explained the situation to Jirik and Peterson, Mayor and DDA Chairman Terry Tarsi injected himself into the conversation. He stated that previously, Iron River had used plants on roadside lights which required maintenance, and that finding people to maintain them was proving to be impossible.
    As such, the DDA focused on the banner replacements, as they would require much less maintenance. However, Tarsi said that they had failed to account for new flag brackets to go along with the banners. Tarsi said that, in addition to taking responsibility, that they should have spent more time thinking ahead to needs down the road.
    However, since the city currently is not in possession of any implements that could hold flags along the road nor did they have flags that were in condition to be presented in public, as of the city meeting it was forecasted that the city would not have flags on posts during Independence Day.
    There were offers from the audience to source flags for the city, but there would still be no place to put them by July 4. At the conclusion of the discussion, council member Rodney Dood stated that he personally believed that the situation needed to be addressed as soon as possible.

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