Leaders question use of flags on Main Street lamp posts
By Kristen Swing
At two separate meetings last week, John Browning, a member of Jonesborough’s Tree and Townscape Board, reported on two options for displaying flags or banners related to special events in town.
The first option involves displaying them on town-provided metal poles that can be installed along the sidewalk on Main Street.
The second option suggests taking down, from time to time, some of the American flags that hang year-round on the lamp posts to utilize that space for flags advertising an upcoming town event.
“It looks like using the lamp posts eliminates clutter,” said Virginia Kennedy, a member of the Tree and Townscape Board, which met on June 27. “I still agree with those who think the flags should not be there all the time anyway.”
Last year, the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen rejected a suggestion from a consulting firm that the flags be removed from light posts.
The design firm claimed the flags were not being properly illuminated and flags for special events ought to be flown on the lamp posts instead.
“When there was some discussion on this in the past,” said Vice Mayor Terry Countermine at the June 27 meeting, “within two weeks, they had 400 signatures that said not to take them down.”
The issue sparked significant debate over whether the flags should be hanging all year round in the first place.
The American flags are currently down due to the ongoing construction on Main Street, but are scheduled to return to their posts once work is complete.
“As a veteran, it is my opinion leaving the flags up 24/7 is disrespectful,” Browning said. “I find it objectionable. I don’t think that is the way you treat a flag.”
Countermine and others at the meeting suggested speaking with area veterans about the issue and getting those who agreed with Browning to voice their opinions on the matter.
“I’ve been on both sides of that. I tend to be patriotic. But not having them up all the time doesn’t mean we are unpatriotic,” Countermine said. “Ultimately, it is the BMA that decides.”
At a meeting of the HIstoric Zoning Commission on June 28, where Browning also presented the recommendations on flags, HZC member Ruth Verhegge called the second option a “moot point.”
“The BMA voted on Aug. 29 (2011) that the flags will not come down for special events,” said Verhegge, also the chair of the town’s Flag Committee. “The BMA said the special posts will be used.”