A program that places banners of active or former military members along Main Street in Battle Ground in May needs a boost and expanding the banners to include other professions is under consideration.
During its March 20 meeting, the Battle Ground City Council discussed the “banners” portion of its “Bricks and Banners” military appreciation program. First approved in April 2021, the banners bought by community members go up on Main Street from May through the third week of June, in tandem with National Military Appreciation Month.
The banner program hasn’t made as big of a splash as Battle Ground’s other avenues of appreciation for service members in the community. Only five banners have been purchased, Battle Ground City Manager Erin Erdman said.
The city received only two applications this year for the banners, Erdman said. The city needs at least five banners in order to make it cost-effective to produce the banners, meaning there won’t be any additions come May.
Earlier this month, Battle Ground City Councilor Adrian Cortes brought up the banner program, and entertained the idea of expanding who is eligible to have their name and face hang along Main Street. Cortes proposed the inclusion of police officers, firefighters and teachers.
“It may not take as well as I think it will, but at least it’s opening up (the program,)” Cortes said.
Erdman said city staff has also discussed potentially moving the existing banners from Main Street to the veterans memorial at Kiwanis Park. She noted the city would have to figure out where the banners would be hung at the memorial.
To spread the word about the program, Erdman said the city has done pushes on social media as they advertised the purchase of the banners as a holiday gift. Alongside the banners, the city also lets community members place bricks with the name of current or former military members at the veterans memorial.
Both the bricks and banners cost $250. Erdman said through promoting the banner program, the city has drummed up more support for the bricks than the intended target of the advertizing.
“I think it’s because price-wise it’s pretty comparable, and with the bricks, they’re there, they’re permanent,” Erdman said.
Erdman said the current requirement for a banner is some connection to the Battle Ground community. It does not include a specific designation like being a current resident in city limits. Councilor Shauna Walters suggested reaching out to Battle Ground High School’s JROTC program or other veterans’ groups to boost the program’s visibility.
“There’s not a lot of veteran organizations in the city itself, but maybe even some of the outlying areas may have residents that could take advantage of it,” Walters said.
At the program’s inception, the city justified it because May is recognized federally for military appreciation, Walters said.
“That would be my only hesitation with opening it up to the other groups for this purpose,” Walters said.
Other councilors suggested allowing banners for past teachers and citizens of the year, or having specific months where certain professions can be displayed.
The month of May includes many of the calendar recognitions for the professions being considered.
Mayor Philip Johnson noted the celebration for law enforcement, National Police Week, occurs in May. International Firefighters Day takes place on May 4.
The council directed staff to present the options to the Battle Ground Parks and Community Engagement Advisory Board. It is set to come back before the council in June.
Cortes noted any changes to the program are still contingent on community members being willing to pay for the banners.
“Bottom line is people have to be willing to actually pay the money to do it, right?” Cortes said.
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