Albany Rotary Banners Honor Vets, First Responders

In 2018, Sweet Home volunteers installed 40 large banners to honor local veterans through the community’s Hero Banner Project. Former Mayor Jim Gourley and his wife, Lisa, a current member of the council, got the idea from communities in California and Nevada.  Now the two Albany Rotary Clubs are working together to do the same thing locally, since this year’s Albany Veterans Day Parade was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Jay Burcham saw the banners in Sweet Home and mentioned it to me during our weekly lunch together,” Rotarian Mike Martin said. “Of course it’s a great idea.”  Martin said the Rotary Clubs are working with the Oregon Department of Transportation, since anything that hangs over a state roadway has to be approved.

“We hope to get started by Oct. 14 and have the banners up through Thanksgiving,” Martin said.  Martin said each banner is 2 feet wide and 4 feet tall. They cost $100 each, including the brackets. They will be produced at Xtreme Grafx.  “Jim Gourley has been a tremendous help on this,” Martin said. “He has provided us with lots of great information and even gave us the registration forms used in Sweet Home.”

Each banner will feature a color photo of a veteran and their service information. Banners will also be available for first responders who have died in the line of duty.  “We plan to take them down, roll each one up and put them in tubes, so they should last many years,” Martin said.

The Sweet Home banners go up on Memorial Day weekend and stay up through Veterans Day.  Martin said the plan is to start with the 112 utility poles on Lyon and Ellsworth streets. The city has already given approval.

“If we fill those, then we will move on to Pacific, Ninth and Santiam,” Martin said. “We have sold 18 so far, and we haven’t even begun our outreach yet. We would like to put a few on stands so we can display in retail establishments and veterans organizations.”

Martin said Vets Helping Vets is eager to assist with the project.  “We think it’s important that people realize our community is still honoring our veterans even though we won’t have our annual parade,” Martin said. “The parade will be back next year.”

To learn more or to register for a banner, contact rotarybannerproject@gmail.com.

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