Print City of Cottonwood to display veteran banners
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 00:00

Cottonwood City Council voted 5-1 to partner with a local law firm to sell red, white and blue banners listing the names of people who served in the U.S. military. The banners are to be displayed in Old Town and other locations throughout the city.

Mayor Diane Joens, Vice Mayor Karen Pfeiffer and council members Terence Pratt, Tim Elinsky and Linda Norman voted in favor. Councilman Duane Kirby voted against the proposal. Councilman Darold Smith was absent.

Attorney Jim Ledbetter and his administrative assistant Coleen Gilboy gave council members a peek at the proposed banners during council’s regular meeting May 3.

Gilboy met with city staff in April to pitch the idea. Staff favored the concept and recommended its approval, City Manager Doug Bartosh told council.

Under the plan, banners can be purchased by residents at a cost of $150. Sponsors will contact Gilboy directly with the name they wish to have displayed on the banner and their desired location for placement.

Gilboy will handle all ordering, purchasing and proof approval. The city will partner by allowing the banners to be placed on city-owned light poles and will install the banner at the desired location. In addition to the name and rank of the service member, the name of the sponsor will also appear on the banner, Ledbetter said.

Neither the city nor the law firm will profit from the venture. The two-sided vinyl banners will be sold at cost, he said.

“It’s a great idea,” Pratt said. “The only cost to the city is the time it takes to hang the banners. It’s a very innovative idea. I think we would be the only city in Arizona doing this.”

Cottonwood resident Bob Oliphant told council the concept was sound but warned about devils in the details. He questioned the need to place the sponsor’s name on the banner.

“That cheapens it and makes it look too commercial,” Oliphant said.

He suggested different banners should be used for service members who died in combat.

“There should be a distinction between those who gave their lives in service to our country and those who managed to survive,” Oliphant said.

Council should involve nonprofits like the Veterans of Foreign Wars to help design a new banner, he said.

“What if a convicted sex offender wants to sponsor a banner?” Oliphant asked. “Is a commercial business limited to one banner or can it purchase 50?”

Someone should be designated to decide where a banner can be placed when more than one sponsor wants theirs posted in the same location, he said.

Instead of having the law firm receive payment for the banners, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit should handle the money, giving sponsors a tax deduction when they buy them, he said.

City Councilman Duane Kirby suggested the banner for fallen veterans display a gold star, a symbol traditionally displayed by families who lose family members to war.

“That’s the way we did it during World War II,” he said.

Bartosh said he would develop written procedures for the purchase and placement of banners that will alleviate Olipant’s concerns.