PEPPERELL -- Pepperell may not have flags hung on Main Street this Patriot's Day, Memorial Day or Fourth of July unless a local business steps in to help.
Representatives of the Fourth of July Committee asked the town for help in hanging the flags at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Feb. 24, after the company that used to hang the flags discontinued its service. Though the town agreed to store the flags, officials said they are not able to hang the flags at this time.
Selectmen Chairman Stephen Themelis said that although the town logistically can't hang the flags, he is planning to continue to work toward finding a solution.
"I plan to still work with the Highway Superintendent, as well as the Town Administrator and Select Board to see what options, if any, are available to help us to keep the flags prominently displayed on the parade route," Themelis said.
Because the town does not have a bucket truck, and because of the financial burden it would pose on a town that's already contemplating a Proposition 2 1/2 override to avoid a cut of about 9 percent to the operational budget, Themelis said the town is simply unable to hang the flags.
He said he hopes to find a solution soon due to the importance of patriotism for many Pepperell residents.
"Those flags that are set out on the parade route are donated in memory of loved ones. That's very important to me and a lot of people in our community," Themelis said. "I feel it's our obligation to keep this town tradition alive, for the people who have sacrificed so much for the freedom of so many."
With only eight members on the Fourth of July Committee, treasurer Alycia Gelin-Burr said the group also lacks the time and resources to hang the flags. The group works year-round to fundraise $32,000 for the Fourth of July parade, fireworks and other festivities.
For the last 11 years, the flags have been hung by Charter Communications, but due to costs and liability, the company is no longer able to assist.
Gelin-Burr thanked Charter for their years of aid to the town, but asked that another business step in to make sure the tradition continues. She asked that any businesses in town with a bucket truck, insurance coverage, time and personnel email email@example.com if they are willing to help.
"It would be so devastating for the veterans of this town," Gelin-Burr said. "I personally think it's owed to the veterans and the current and future soldiers in this town. It's a respect issue in my opinion. Those flags represent the memory or honor of somebody. Pepperell's really patriotic, and people will notice if they aren't hung."
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