Paxton's pitch: Huge American flag near I-57 exit

Paxton's pitch: Huge American flag near I-57 exit

PAXTON — Paxton's fire chief wants to put a huge American flag atop a 150-foot flagpole near the exit for the city on Interstate 57 — not only as a way to support the nation and its veterans but also to make his small city in Ford County stand out to travelers on one of the nation's busiest highways.

"I want people someday to say, 'Hey, you know that little city of Paxton down there south of Chicago? It's where they've got that big U.S. flag flying,'" Fire Chief Denny Kingren said. "Effingham stands out by the very large cross it has (along I-57), and I think there would be nothing wrong with Paxton — the little, strong community that it is — to also stand out."

Kingren said the Paxton fire department in the near future will kick off a fundraising campaign with the goal of raising the necessary $35,000 to $40,000 to buy a 150-foot flagpole with a 30-by-60-foot flag.

Based on early feedback from community leaders, Kingren said he expects the fundraising goal can be reached in a two- or three-year period.

"Everybody who I've suggested this to was in full support of trying to figure out a way to fund a project like this and maybe make us stand out as a great city trying to show our support for our great nation," Kingren said. "I've talked with the firemen, and they are in full support to help promote this fundraiser. And I've talked with the mayor, the chamber of commerce, different business leaders."

Kingren said he was inspired to find a way for Paxton to support veterans and the nation as a whole after visiting Wisconsin for snowmobiling trips over the past five years.

"I've noticed cities in Wisconsin tend to fly large U.S. flags, and that inspired me to think that it would be a neat thing for Paxton, with the way we support veterans and such," Kingren said.

In Sheboygan, Wis., is the world's largest free-flying American flag — a 400-foot flagpole waving a flag that is 140 feet wide by 70 feet high. The pole is about 100 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, and its flag is four stories tall. The stars measure 3.5 feet, and each stripe is more than 4 feet wide.

Paxton's flag and pole would be smaller but still would be among the most noticeable landmarks along the I-57 corridor.

Kingren said much of the "particulars" still need to be worked out, but he hopes to install the 1,800-square-foot flag and 150-foot flagpole — which would be 3 feet in diameter at its base and 15 to 20 inches in diameter at its top — near the I-57 interchange on Paxton's west side.

Kingren said a potential location for the flagpole would be east of the highway on property owned by the Paxton-Buckley-Loda school district, near PBL High and PBL Junior High. Kingren said he has been in discussions with the school district's superintendent, Cliff McClure, who "appeared quite on board with the consideration of that."

Kingren noted that the flagpole would be built out of "high-grade steel" and painted, and it would be strong enough to withstand high winds. Kingren said he is still looking into any requirements regarding lighting of the flagpole, among other necessary conditions.

Will Brumleve is editor of the Ford County Record, a News-Gazette Media community newspaper. For more, visit fordcountyrecord.com.

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