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VA office: Banners could showcase local veterans

(Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette) Gene LaRochelle, board member of the Houghton County Veterans Affairs office, displays a sample banner he proposes be displayed to honor veterans.

HOUGHTON — The Houghton County Veterans Affairs office is looking at ways to show public support for veterans.

VA board member Gene LaRochelle showed the Houghton County Board at its meeting Wednesdays samples of banners that could be hung from street light poles honoring veterans.

The idea came from Owensville, Ohio, a Cincinnati suburb which has been posting the banners for several years. LaRochelle learned of it from his son, who lives in Cincinnati. Owensville’s project began in 2016, according to the Clermont (Ohio) Sun.

People who want to recognize veterans in their family can pay for panels that are mounted on telephone poles or service poles along Owensville’s main street. LaRochelle received an overview on the project from several people in Owensville, including its chief of police.

The panels are 30 by 60, using a mounting system similar to panels used by Michigan Tech, LaRochelle said.

“We talked about smaller panels, but if you drive around and look at smaller panels, they don’t convey a lot of information,” he said.

The first year, Owensville sold about 12. That has grown to about 200 since, LaRochelle said.

Owensville is one of about 150 communities in 11 states that use the displays, according to the Troop Banners website.

Cost would be about $120 per panel, to be paid by the families. LaRochelle said the Village of Calumet had indicated it would be willing to handle the applications. The VA office would provide necessary information, and also verify the person’s military service.

“There’s always an issue of stolen valor,” LaRochelle said.

LaRochelle envisioned the banners being displayed from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Owensville’s, are up year-round, LaRochelle said.

The VA office will be approaching local communities, and have also reached out to local veterans group.

“Everyone we’ve talked to has been supportive of this,” LaRochelle said.

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