WELLSBORO — On Tuesday, members of the Wellsboro Rotary Club worked on a project to enhance the appearance of Wellsboro’s downtown.
According to Jim Tutak, a Rotary member, the American flags which decorate Main Street during the summer, are frequently damaged by large vehicles. The flags, which are a project of the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce, hang in such a way that vehicles like campers, delivery trucks and busses can catch the flag and break it when leaving a parking spot.
It costs $90 to replace each 10-foot hickory flagpole and damage adds up over the summer. In 2019, there were about 20 flag poles broken due to vehicles, said Julie VanNess, executive director of the chamber.
Online, purchasing new brackets would cost $40, said Tutak. Instead, he and Charlie Messina, who heads the chamber flag committee, redesigned the bracket to hold the flag at a more upright angle on the parking meter. They tested it on flags outside The Steak House for the past year. No broken poles.
“The top of the flag pole will be over the curb rather than the parking spot,” said Tutak.
Tutak and Messina solicited donations from Lowe’s in Mansfield and Montoursville, Denny’s Electric and Dunham’s Do-It Center to fashion 100 brackets using PVC pipe and caps, decking, some nuts and bolts, and conduit. With the donations, the cost of each new bracket will be about $2 apiece, and Tutak expects that additional donations will cover that cost.
On Tuesday, Tutak and Rotary members Ardell Thomas, Terry Babb and Bob DeCamp gathered in Woodland Park. With jazz playing in the background, they wiped down each bracket with acetone to remove grease and allow the spray paint to adhere. Then, using a turnstile, the men sprayed each bracket and placed it in a rack to dry, completing all the assembled brackets in less than an hour.
“It’s what we do, to serve the community,” said Babb when asked why he was helping. “I wanted to help put the flags so they can be displayed and not run over.”
Right now, the flags have been removed from Main Street while crews trim the trees. After that, the parking meters will be repainted and Tutak hopes another service organization will step forward to attach the new brackets to the parking meters.
“I’m grateful for the support of the Wellsboro Rotary and the public and Charlie Messina spearheading the flag community group taking care of them,” said VanNess. “There is a lot of work going into the flags, keeping them up and in repair. It really does make the community look absolutely wonderful throughout the summer months.
“It’s little things like that which people don’t realize makes a huge difference in the appearance of our downtown,” she added.