For the past year, one of Turlock’s busiest shopping areas has also been the location of the City’s tribute to those serving in the United States military. The Active Military Banner Program, launched in November 2017, has become so popular that the City Council took action at their Aug. 14 meeting to expand the program.
The program currently includes 20, 8-foot tall banners installed on light poles along Countryside Drive between Tuolumne Road and Monte Vista Avenue. Each banner features the service member’s name, photo and branch of service and will be displayed for a one-year term.
Golden State Farmers Market Association, through the Downtown Central Park Evening Market, donated $5,000 to help launch the banner program in 2017 and once again donated $5,000 for the banner program for the 2018-19 term. The Central Park Market donation covered the cost of the banners and hardware, with American Legion Rex Ish Post 88 sponsoring two of the banners for the 2017-18 term.
According to City of Turlock Event Assistant Amber Traini, the community’s response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive and resulted in a number of questions about expanding the program to include citizens outside of the city limits and those who died while in service to their country.
“Since the installation of the first 20 banners last November, the City has received tremendous appreciation from the community. Almost immediately upon those banners being installed we started getting questions and applications for the ’18-19 banner term. Other municipalities have reached out to us because of the …notoriety it has received throughout other communities and overall the feedback has been extremely positive,” said Traini.
The City has received some feedback, however, to improve on the program including expanding it to include military members who reside outside of Turlock. Currently, the active military member must have immediate family living in the City of Turlock to be considered for the banner program.
“It has been brought to staff’s attention that service members may be very active in the community, they may be part of service organizations, they may have graduated from high school, graduated from college, maybe lived here their entire life, joined the military and their parents moved out of the city limits to Denair, to Hilmar to places that still come to do their shopping and are very active in our community. Those are the community members we’re hearing from. They’d like to be honored. They feel they are part of Turlock even though they don’t live in the city limits,” said Traini.
Based on the feedback, and input from the Turlock Veterans Committee, city staff proposed changing the eligibility guidelines to include those who live or have immediate family members who live in unincorporated towns bordering Turlock, which are Crows Landing, Hilmar, Keyes, Delhi, Ballico and Denair.
During the inaugural year, the banner program only included active military members. Starting with the 2018-19 banner term, however, there will now be a Fallen Active Military banner option. Upon approval of the service member’s family, a Fallen soldier banner will be hung with the name, picture, military branch symbol along with a black ribbon. The banner will be on display indefinitely or until the family requests it be retired. The costs of purchasing and maintaining the banner will be borne by the City, unless program donations are available.
The Council also approved a new sponsorship program and created a banner retirement ceremony, which will be held for the first time during the upcoming Nov. 13 City Council meeting.
For more information about the Active Military Banner Program, call the City of Turlock at 668-5594.