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Replacement flagpole installed at monument

Veterans helped where they could

To the pair of veterans’ groups restoring county war monuments, the flagpole was the main problem at the World War II monument in Garden Heights, because it was 75 feet tall — subjecting flags to high winds that easily ripped them, making replacement of those flags difficult and making the flags hard to see within the foreshortened vistas of that neighborhood.

On Monday, the company that has been working with the Central Pennsylvania National Guard and Veterans Association and the Blair County War Veterans Council installed a 25-foot replacement pole, then buckled on and raised the pole’s first flag.

“For that (memorial), it’s perfect,” said Monuments Committee President Ken Hollen, who watched Flag Station co-owner Craig Hetrick unwrap, accessorize, place and secure the pole, then unfold and hoist the flag under a bright blue sky.

“You can see it from everywhere, which is nice,” said Hollen, referring to the six sightlines toward the memorial, which is in a small triangular median where Bryant, East Southey and Tennyson avenues come together.

Some of the veterans on hand helped Hetrick when they could — pulling the pole from his truck, sliding it out of a cardboard sheath, unwrapping brown paper that protected the finish, holding hardware while Hetrick applied anti-seize compound, helping lift and shove the pole upright, helping pour sand around the base, into the 3-foot deep hole created by a galvanized form embedded in a concrete foundation that had been poured previously.

Hetrick plumbed the pole with a level, packed sand around the base , then secured the pole’s position by pounding oak wedges around it — after which he added more sand, then dressed the top with rubberized concrete filler — the kind used to seal the joints between sidewalk slabs.

When well-sealed, the oak wedges will last, Hetrick said, pointing out that some installed around a pole in Bellwood more than 20 years ago hadn’t deteriorated when he uncovered them recently to replace the pole after it was damaged in a vehicle crash.

At Garden Heights so far, workers have removed vegetation, regraded the ground, installed stone as ground cover, installed an asphalt curb, removed the old Masonite plaques with names of neighborhood veterans, powerwashed the monument and cut off the old pole.

Still to be done: installation of new granite plaques with names engraved, repointing of the stone monument, sandblasting of two chest-high poles that supported the old flagpole and installation of a plaque on those poles to memorialize the restoration.

If the work is done in time, the groups could hold a rededication ceremony as early as November, Hollen said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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