Hometown Heroes banners coming to St. Armand
BLOOMINGDALE — This summer, the streets of Bloomingdale will be lined with banners carrying the names and faces of local veterans and current members of the military.
The St. Armand Veterans Memorial Park Task Force is introducing the Hometown Heroes program — a staple of downtown areas across America — and is asking friends, families or businesses to sponsor banners.
Town of St. Armand Supervisor Davina Winemiller chairs the new task force in a citizen role. She said when she saw veteran banners in Plattsburgh, she wanted to bring them to St. Armand.
Winemiller said she thinks it’s important to honor veterans, especially Vietnam veterans.
“They were ostracized when they came back from Vietnam, and that was really traumatic for them,” she said. “Most of those guys were drafted. They didn’t ask for this. … Anyone that serves deserves to be recognized and honored.”
A family, friend or businesses can sponsor a banner by sending an application to the task force. Sponsorship costs $165. Winemiller said this charge is for the exact cost of the hardware, shipping and installation. Sponsors will be named on the banners.
The task force plans to install the banners by the Fourth of July, and they’ll be up until mid-September. They’ll be stored for the winter and installed again in the spring. The manufacturer told the task force banners last an average of three years. When a banner is retired, it will be returned to the sponsor.
The program is planned to continue annually for the foreseeable future.
Winemiller said the banners will be centered around the Four Corners in Bloomingdale, but there are feasibly thousands of electric poles to be used in town.
Winemiller and task force member Mick Changelo walked around and counted all the electric poles in the Four Corners area of Bloomingdale. National Grid, which owns the power lines, will need to give approval for each banner. It works with towns to do this elsewhere, but Winemiller said it may disqualify certain poles from use if they carry certain electrical equipment.
The St. Armand town board also unanimously approved of the project.
Task force members are compiling a list of all military members who live or have ever lived in town. Right now that list is pretty long, but it is incomplete.
“Most of the information that we have been able to obtain has been from our cemeteries,” a task force document says. “We have reached out to many different military organizations, and no one has a list of veterans by town, nor are they allowed to release the names of veterans that are alive due to privacy laws.”
Many veterans are still alive, so Winemiller said the modern records have big information gaps, and others may have been buried elsewhere. She is asking people to inform her of soldiers not already on the list.
The earliest veteran, Nathaniel Goodspeed, comes from the American Revolution era — 1775 to 1783.
Winemiller is sponsoring a banner for her son Garrett Fox Thurston, who grew up in St. Armand and recently returned to his home in Brockport after being stationed in Washington, D.C., in the months after the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot.
More information for how to submit an application can be found at the St. Armand Veterans Memorial Park Task Force Facebook page at https://bit.ly/3dYFdZE.
Winemiller also said interested people can contact her at 518-637-9185 or email@example.com, or can reach out to one of the other task force members: Mick Changelo, Sandy Hayes, Warrene McCarthy, Justyna Babcock, Cheri Fisher or Joe Fisher.