New Flagpole and New Size Flag Now Installed at City Hall

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Story of the Kawneer Flag Pole
The American Flag has flown proudly above Niles City Hall since 2013, when the former bank building became City Hall.  This 15' x 25' flag sits atop an 86' heavy duty flag pole.  The flag pole had been used for decades at the old Kawneer Building.  When time came to demolish the building, City Administrator Richard Huff looked at the pole and said. . . "we can use that flag pole at City Hall".  So began an extraordinary trip for a flag pole that would help provide pride to our community, but also lots of work for Fire Chief Larry Lamb and the Niles Fire Department, for Department of Public Works Manager Joe Ray, the city administrator and anyone  else that happened to be at City Hall when the flag needed to be lowered, raised or "unwrapped" from the flag pole.  It is a source of pride for them to ensure it conforms to our country's flag protocol requirements and so taking care of it, no matter how difficult, is always a labor of love for them. 

Below Fire Chief Larry Lamb and Firefighter Don Hughes use "Ladder One's" 95 foot Platform Ladder to unwrap the flag from around the pole at City Hall .
fire flag collage

The "Kawneer Flag Pole" was uninstalled at the old Kawneer location by several Public Works employees.  The process required several trucks, a crane and a variety of other equipment this writer can't name.  A flat bed truck would have been a help, but leasing one for even a small time period was much  too expensive.  So on a sunny day in 2013 about 8 or 9 Public Works employees came together to make it happen. 

The pole had to be removed from its concrete base that had held it for so many years, and then gently lowered between vehicles so that it could make the trip down Old US 31.  This turned out to be a much more difficult task than expected.  Just lowering it to be moved required the workers to stop often, reassess the situation and come up with a plan of action for every movement.  Once loaded  and moved to the edge of the Kawneer property, the crew had  to make the first slow and gentle left turn and before reaching its new resting location, at least one more left turn.   Flaggers were used to direct traffic around the slow moving vehicles, which had to stop every few feet to  ascertain how it was going and how best to gingerly come around a curve, and then how to make those left turns.  

The move did have one mishap, the pole broke.  But this is the City of Niles and our work crews are use to solving problems and they did.  They removed a portion of the flag pole and reconnected two good ends.  It worked!  Later, after it was installed, the city administrator and public works director determined that this repair left a little problem -  from time to time, the flag got caught at the location of the repair and caused the edges of the flag to rip more often. When the flag wraps itself around the pole there's little you can do as that's caused by how the wind blows.   Now remember, this is an expensive 15 foot by 25 foot flag so when it rips or tears each time a new flag goes up.  That means that sometimes when there's several windy days back to back, they'd wait for the winds to die down before installing a new flag.  Some people say at that time we should just take the flag down.  But, not only do you have the expense of replacing the flag, but once it's wrapped around the pole that can only be undone by using the 96' platform ladder fire truck - except in high winds the ladder can't be raised and even if it could - no firefighter should climb it in high winds.

But many of those problems may be over.  Sometime in the next week or two a new 80' flag pole will be installed at City Hall by the Kalamazoo Flag Company.  This company will build a new base to hold the new flag pole they will install.  The new  flag size will be 20' x 30'.  This doesn't mean the flag will never be ripped or wrap around the pole again, but it does mean that there should be fewer rips and hopefully, less wrapping around the pole.  So, look for the new City Hall flag pole to be installed.  It should be a sight to see, expecially since the old one has to be taken down first.  And now you know.  Soon Old Glory will be waving from a new, more sturdier flag pole at City Hall.  We hope you'll like the change.

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