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Jacobs: Could a large American flag be in Tonopah’s future?

At the most recent Tonopah Town Board meeting, the session started as usual with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Normally, that is not something to write about.

But the recent protests by athletes (led by former Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick) refusing to stand for the national anthem is keeping patriotism (and lack of it) in the forefront for me.

When the pledge was completed, for some reason I immediately thought back to an idea brought forth at a Tonopah Town Board meeting over the summer.

Toward the end of a marathon workshop/town board meeting, town board Chairman Duane Downing offered up a patriotic idea.

It’s one featuring red, white and blue and 50 stars.

“One of the things I see in my travels, the city of Hawthorne has the most awesome, amazing American flag I have ever seen,” Downing said. “It is massive…”

“I would love for Tonopah to have something similar,” he said. “And we have got the perfect location for it.”

“I’d love seeing a flag in the center of town …right up on the hill by the old courthouse,” Downing said.

“You could see it from everywhere. The only problem is the winter. If you have to replace a flag every two weeks, and it’s $3,000 a flag,” the answer would be no for Tonopah.

Flag worth seeing

If you have not seen Hawthorne’s “Big Flag,” it’s near U.S. Highway 95 coming to/from the Fallon, Fernley, Sparks and Reno areas toward/from the Tonopah region.

It definitely catches your attention if you are anywhere nearby.

The Mineral County-Independent News reports that on May 16, 2005, part of U.S. Highway 95 was blocked to all traffic so that a 115-foot flag pole could be hoisted and put into place for the flag in Hawthorne.

The flag itself was measured at 60-feet-by-30-feet or 1,800 square feet in all. Since then, efforts such as an annual 911 Memorial Mt. Grant Challenge have helped defray flag maintenance costs in Veterans Park, the newspaper reports.

What about Tonopah?

With summer winding down and patriotism in the forefront with 9/11 remembrances, I asked Tonopah officials about the prospects for a giant flag here.

For now, it is not in the offing.

“We researched it,” Tonopah Administrative Manager Chris Mulkerns said. “It is very, very, very, very, very, pricy” and not something the town can spend its money on.

Downing said last week, “The cost alone is prohibitive.”

“I would love to have something like that,” he said of a giant American flag in Tonopah.

“Up on that hill by the old courthouse would be a great place.”

But for Tonopah, this could mean “you’re talking a six-figure investment” that would involve multiple flags as part of a rotation and maintaining them.

And it’s not just the monetary investment, Downing said.

Volunteers, about five currently as of earlier this week, also play a key role in Hawthorne, making it work there.

They “are dedicated to making sure that flag is taken care of, that they go up there and remove it before heavy winds,” Downing said.

Tonopah does not have a lot of volunteers “so that would be tough,” said Downing, who had been told the Hawthorne flag volunteers total 12.

“The two things in conjunction make it difficult.”

Downing, however, does hold out some hope for a large flag in Tonopah.

“Maybe we can go with something a little bit smaller scale,” he said. “I’m not sure yet. Something that massive, it wouldn’t work.”

He still likes the old courthouse building for placing the flag. The site sits on top of a hill overlooking Tonopah’s Main Street and other landmarks.

“That way it’s visible to three-quarters of the town,” Downing said.

I’ll keep readers posted with any developments.

Write me with any ideas for this potential project. I might share them here with other readers.

Contact reporter David Jacobs at djacobs@tonopahtimes.com

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