By Luke Phillips
Holtville residents will soon see the flag flying high over Holt Park once again, as plans are set in motion to replace the old flag pole that was damaged in Easter Sunday’s 7.2 earthquake.
At their meeting Monday, the Holtville City Council approved a plan that will move the location of the flagpole a few yards to the west to accommodate future plans to expand Holtville’s veterans’ memorial.
“We’re thinking in terms of making more of a little plaza, a veterans plaza if you will,” said Holtville Public Works Manager Gerry Peacher. “Right now the memorial that we have there is full. There’s no room for anymore names.”
The design chosen by the council will include a new stamped concrete foundation, arranged to accommodate the future expansion of the veterans’ memorial,
and a brand-new 125-foot flagpole, complete with flag, at a cost of just over $38,000.
“It’s a turnkey operation, as they say,” said Peacher.
The height of the new flagpole was a matter of some contention at the council meeting. Plans originally brought to the council included a 100-foot pole, 25 feet shorter than the original. Peacher told the council the new height was chosen because of maintenance considerations.
“It makes it much easier for maintenance,” Peacher said. “There are plenty of companies around here that have cranes that are capable of reaching that height. With a 125-foot pole, it’s hard to find them. They’re not local and you’ve got the bring them in from outside, and it’s very costly.”
City manager Laura Fischer reminded the council that with the new pole’s internal halyard system, maintenance would be less of an issue. With the internal halyard system, all of the flag’s mechanisms are inside the flagpole itself, which reduces damages during high winds.
“The argument that it’s more difficult to repair it at 125 feet is a little bit discounted when you consider that this new halyard pole won’t break as often and has internal mechanisms,” she said. “You do have that option as well, because you will have more modern technology.”
Despite the assurances of reduced maintenance problems, some at the meeting were still outspoken against putting the pole back to it’s original height.
“I have a great concern for this extra 25 feet in the destruction of flags,” council member Jerry Brittsan said, “and not only that, but this wench concept, cranking that up another 25 feet is going to add to the size of the wench and you’re going to add to the size of the problem. You’re building yourself a problem right in the unit with it.”
City Treasurer Pete Mellinger also spoke out against the 125 pole.
“Speaking as city treasurer, I strongly recommend the 100 foot flag pole,” Mellinger said. “Over the years that 125 feet has been a pain in the neck for the city, because locally we don’t have people that can reach the 125 feet. So I’m going to speak in favor of the 100-foot flag pole.”
Other members of the council expressed their support for the extra 25 feet.
“If we lower it, I won’t be able to see it from my back yard,” Layton joked.
Ultimately the council voted 4-1 to approve restoring the pole to it’s original height, with council member Brittsan dissenting.
Fischer spoke of the possibility of hold a ribbon cutting for the new flag pole on the fourth of July.
“We really want to get that back in place and we were hoping that maybe we could do something for the Fourth of July,” Fischer said. “Since it would be a patriotic holiday and maybe we could have a little grand opening or presentation. We think we can.
By Luke Phillips