South Jacksonville Flag Costs Stirs Questions

By Benjamin Cox on October 9, 2023 at 11:28am

A large patriotic symbol that greets travelers to South Jacksonville is turning into a large money pit for the village’s government.

The 120-foot tall flag pole that holds a 30 x 60 foot American flag that’s been flying since 2021 is raising questions on its upkeep.

Village President Dick Samples told the Board of Trustees on Thursday night that the two flags the village owns are in complete disrepair. He says a heavy-duty flag purchased more than a year ago can no longer be repaired due to the tears in the fabric and where those tears occurred.

Samples says replacing the flags is going to cost the village thousands of dollars. He says the flags have already cost several thousand dollars to be repaired over the last two years: “[The cost] is approaching $10,000-$12,000 that we’ve spent in the last two years since it has been up. That’s just for the flags only. No electrical expenses for the lighting and everything out there. We have gone through, I know…I think this is the sixth flag.”

Samples says that the village will have to purchase at least two to keep in a rotation in case one tears. New flags of that size retail between $2,000 and $5,000. Samples says he’s located a used flag that will cost significantly less: “I was looking at purchasing a used one for $500 versus $2,300 for a new one. It’s a used flag. That doesn’t bother me in a sense. I don’t think it should bother anybody whether it’s a new flag or a used flag. It’s what the flag means and stands for that’s most important, my opinion of course.”

Samples believes that the Board of Trustees will authorize the purchase of two flags at the upcoming special committee of the whole meeting. However, he has asked for ideas moving forward because he believes the continued expense needs to be discussed.

Former Village President Tyson Manker’s administration approved $40,000 in village tourism funds to erect the flag pole in 2021 to create a destination site. A time capsule and war memorial were also a part of the tentative plans at the site that never came to fruition. The purchased time capsules were eventually donated to South Elementary School. A proposed bike trail to the site has also been proposed but has not been continued.