SWEET HOME — Sweet Home’s military veterans and first responders will be honored through a new community-wide Hero Banner Project.

Former Mayor Jim Gourley and his wife, Lisa, who currently serves on the City Council, have worked on the project for two years.

“We noticed banners in other communities when we have traveled,” Jim Gourley said. “What better way is there to show community support for our veterans and active-duty servicemen and women and to show pride in our city?”

Gourley said the project will be coordinated through the Community Health Committee and the City Council.

“The concept of community health encompasses so many areas,” Gourley said. “We hope these banners not only honor our service folks, but also help our residents understand what our service men and women go through and the types of health services they might need.”

Gourley said the banners will include a photograph, name and branch of service of each honoree. They must have been residents of any of the communities or rural areas that make up the Sweet Home School District.

Service can be in any of the military branches, as well as the Merchant Marine, National Guard and Reserves.

Also, first responders such as firefighters, EMTs and police officers, who have died in the line of duty, will be eligible.

The banners will be produced at Northwest Graphics in Lebanon and cost $75 each. Local businesses are helping sponsor veterans and installation of standardized brackets that will go on the telephone and light poles that line Highway 20.

“We have more than 200 poles,” Gourley said. “Right now, we have three different-sized brackets. Our plan is to standardize all of the brackets. We will hang the Hero Banners on Memorial Day and they will remain up through Veterans Day. Then, we can install our Christmas banners.”

Support has been strong, according to Gourley. The deadline for the first round of applications is April 15.

“We hope to have at least 100 banners up for Memorial Day weekend,” he said. “We will then add them when we get groups of say 10 or so at a time. We would love to have every pole filled in time.”

Each banner is 2 feet wide and 4 feet tall, and is made of heavy materials to last many years.

“We currently have 20 banner applications in the process,” Gourley said. “Applicants will need to produce proof of service, such as a DD14 or equivalent. We also require a photograph.”

Specific pole positions are not guaranteed.

“A star on each of the banners will be white for veterans, blue for active duty personnel and gold for those who have died in the line of duty,” Gourley said.

There also will be designations for those killed in action, missing in action and prisoners of war.

Application forms are available at the Sweet Home Chamber of Commerce, 1675 Main St.; City Hall, 1140 12th Ave.; or on the city’s website at http://www.sweet-home.or.us/executive/page/sweet-home-hero-banner-project.

Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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