KEARNEY — Support from the community is helping the Kearney Rotary Clubs with a project to display patriotism at The Archway.
When the project is finished, a 20-foot by 30-foot American flag will be displayed at all hours on top of an 80-foot flagpole. The flag will go directly north of The Archway entrance.
Rick Smith, head of the Raise the Flag committee, said he hopes to raise $30,000 for the project. Smith is a member of the Dawn Rotary Club.
Near the base of the flag, a rock monument will be 5 feet tall and include the names of donors at various levels.
Smith already has a few of the flags purchased. The flags are massive, so big that only one fits into a medium-sized cardboard box.
There’s a variety of costs involved with the effort, Smith said, including lighting, an engineer drawing, shipping and the monument engraving.
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The idea for a permanent large flag at The Archway started with Kearney Concrete’s Concrete Cares cancer awareness campaign. In September, a concrete pumping truck flew a flag borrowed from Perkins nearly 100 feet in the air at The Archway.
“People were driving by (on the interstate) and honking,” Smith said. “It was really neat.”
It wasn’t until three months ago that local Rotarians decided to take steps to erect a monument at The Archway. After researching the cost, the Dawn, Noon and On The Bricks clubs banded together to fundraise.
Smith said that he’s working with archway employees and the city to plan a dedication ceremony on Sept. 11. He envisions a ceremony with active military and military veterans, firefighters, police officers and EMS.
“Everybody has been phenomenal,” Smith said. “I have not had one negative comment.”
So far, the group has raised almost $25,000 toward the cost of the flag pole. Additional funds will be saved to help with maintenance costs and purchasing new flags.
The funds donated to the project are kept in a separate account and will be used only for the flag.
Smith is a military veteran himself. He was deployed overseas twice. He said the project has a special meaning to him, and he has been honored to be the chairperson of the committee.
Donations of all sizes are welcomed, Smith said. People who would like to have their names on the monument must donate at the $500 level or more. To be included on the monument, donations must be received by July 31.
Donations can be mailed to The Archway at 3060 E. First St., Kearney, NE 68847. For more information, call Rick Smith at 234-2222.