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Stars and Stripes to line Turlock streets

POSTED October 12, 2010 11:51 p.m.

The American flag won’t just fly over Turlock’s streets on the Fourth of July.

On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council agreed to allow the Fly the Flag Committee to raise American flags around town on major holidays to honor soldiers serving in foreign countries, and those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“These men and women put their lives on the line for us, and we need to honor them,” said Fly the Flag Committee member Larry Anderson.

The agreement will see the Fly the Flag Committee mount flags on light posts lining Main Street in downtown Turlock and Monte Vista Avenue alongside California State University, Stanislaus on major holidays.

The committee will purchase, replace, and install the flags on holidays, with the help of volunteers and donations from the community. Some of those flags will be embroidered with the names of veterans to honor those abroad and those who have lost their lives fighting for America.

The plan was created by Turlocker Donnell Bak, a war veteran and 15-year member of the American Legion, who was spurred into action by the lack of flags he saw flying around town.

“I had noticed there was very, very few flags flying and we are now in our 10th year in Afghanistan,” Bak said. “We have lost a number of soldiers here from Turlock.”

Turlock has lost three soldiers, according to Johnson. Approximately 35 countywide have given their lives in the ongoing war, he said.

In June, Bak petitioned the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors to require all county businesses to raise the Stars and Stripes. Due to free speech issues that idea was vetoed, but Bak revised his plan to the current holiday flag arrangement.

The plan wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. City staff took issue with Bak’s original proposal, which asked the city to bore holes into sidewalks to mount flags on vertical poles. That plan was untenable due to potential damage to sidewalks, theft of flags, and safety concerns from reduced visibility.

But the city and the Fly The Flag Committee were able to come to an agreement on a plan to make use of the existing flag mounts on streetlights around town. The Fly the Flag Committee will be responsible for a $150 one-time encroachment fee, and will be required to obey all city rules. They will also have to coordinate with other organizations which use the flag mounts, such as CSU Stanislaus and the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association, to ensure no conflicts occur.

“Well, as somebody who flies a flag in his front yard every day, I offer my full support,” said Councilman Ted Howze.

Turlock is the second Stanislaus County city to accept the Fly the Flag Committee’s proposal. The City of Hughson previously designated an area downtown for flags to be flown.

As the Fly the Flag Committee looks to expand the effort countywide, representatives were enthused both by Turlock’s support and the chance to honor local military personnel during the next major holiday.

“I can’t say how important this is,” Anderson said.

 

RFP approved for Fleet Maintenance outsourcing

The Turlock City Council on Tuesday finalized four Requests for Proposals which could see the city’s Fleet Services Maintenance Division outsourced.

The RFPs, which will be used to obtain bids for outsourcing, were developed by city staff, Vice Mayor Kurt Spycher, and Turlock City Employee Association Counsel Bob Phibbs following the 2009-2010 budget process. At that time, council members questioned if Turlock could save money by outsourcing the division, responsible for maintenance of all of Turlock’s vehicles, small equipment, and heavy trucks.

The RFP process does not mean that the city will approve outsourcing the department, which could see city employees lose their jobs.

“I think, one way or another, this is a great process,” Howze said. “There’s no guarantee from going out to RFP that we actually outsource anything.”

Information gathered in the RFP process will be used to examine costs in the Fleet Maintenance Division, and also to investigate how the division bills other departments for work.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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