Gillett to consider banners honoring veterans

Joint effort proposed using private donations
Warren Bluhm
News Editor

A recent transplant to the city of Gillett is advocating for creating a salute to the community’s many veterans.

Appearing at the June 6 meeting of the Gillett City Council, Michael Kohn said he and his wife moved into town about a year ago, and he has family in the area.

“In the communities I’ve traveled, and what Gillett’s missing, is a way to honor our veterans by putting up a banner, be it a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, an aunt, an uncle,” Kohn said. “It would be no cost to the city, family members would pay for the banners, and we would put them up from Memorial Day to Labor Day.”

Before he takes the idea much further, Kohn said he would like to have the city’s blessing. His cousin, Jeff Hertwig, would print the banner if the proposal becomes a reality, he said.

“I don’t know what an appropriate size, what the limitations would be, but the banner would include ‘Saluting our hometown heroes,’ a picture of the service member, the dates of active service, and the rank,” Kohn said. “I think it would kind of dress the town up and show our appreciation to the veterans, whether living or deceased.

Chris Byars, president of the Gillett Chamber of Commerce, said the idea was discussed at a recent joint meeting of the chamber with the city tourism and marketing committee. Kohn has also approached the local American Legion post, where he is a member.

The matter was not on the agenda so the city council could not vote on the idea, but the concept got a positive reception.

“I think it would be a good collaboration with the chamber,” Alderperson Ashley VanStraten said.

Alderperson Jerry Luther cautioned that during conversations about the upcoming reconstruction of state Highway 22 through the city, the state has said it will not allow banners on poles along the highway, which doubles as North McKenzie Street and West Main Street.

Byars had a similar response from WE Energies, the city’s electric utility.

“WE Energies will not allow us to use their poles at this point,” Byars said. “We discussed at the meeting working with the city and maybe having more of a voice from the city and the chamber working together, finding out why and maybe just changing the tide on that.”

Alderperson Irene Drake suggested utilizing Park Street, which runs through Zippel Park from the highway to Washington to Washington Street.

The issue will be up for discussion and possible action at upcoming council meetings.