After receiving multiple complaints from citizens, the city of Lodi has installed a temporary flagpole in time for the Tokay High School football game Friday night at the Grape Bowl.
City staff “cobbled together” a flagpole using an old streetlight and a pulley system, City Manager Rad Bartlam said.
The city took out the previous flagpole and the scoreboard to allow construction on the west side of the stadium. The long-term solution is to put up a permanent flagpole, which could cost from $5,500 to $6,500, near the scoreboard, said Jim Rodems, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.
“We didn’t want to put anything up that would cost a lot of money that would just be taken down. We put a flag on the press box, but apparently people didn’t like that idea too much,” Rodems said.
The city poured the foundation for the flagpole at the Grape Bowl on Monday and then installed the pole Wednesday.
At the Lodi City Council meeting on Wednesday, Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce applauded city staff for coming up with a viable temporary solution quickly.
“The staff was willing to jump through hoops to get something done, and that is important,” Mounce said.
Councilman Larry Hansen said he felt frustrated after reading a Letter to the Editor in the News-Sentinel that said the council members do not care about the flag.
Lodi resident Mark Trovinger wrote a letter on Oct. 17 saying he was disappointed that Mounce brought up the lack of a flagpole at a meeting earlier this month, but then she did not push the issue, and neither did the other council members.
“If you don’t have enough American pride or respect to do everything possible to fly the American flag at the Grape Bowl, don’t be surprised if the proud Americans that elected you, elect others to take your place,” Trovinger wrote.
Even though he did not speak at the meeting, Hansen said he was checking in with Bartlam and was working behind the scenes.
“If you don’t hear us specifically mention it from the dais, that does not mean that we don’t care and that we are not doing anything. We might be going about it another, subtle way,” Hansen said.
As a U.S. Navy veteran and former Lodi police officer for 30 years, Hansen said it is disturbing that people would think he did not have respect for the flag.
“I’m one of those people who cannot hear ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ without crying,” Hansen said.
Mounce wrote a Letter to the Editor responding to Trovinger’s letter. She suggested concerned residents consider go to www.savethegrapebowl.com to help the aging stadium. Since then, several flags have been donated, which Mounce said has been a positive outcome to this issue.
“We are very patriotic people. It’s a lesson that we need to teach our children; that patriotism is great,” Mounce said.
She wanted to write the letter because Lodi residents needed to know that the city is addressing the concerns.
“I want people to realize that the city of Lodi is doing everything it can in regards to the Grape Bowl and making it a place that we can be proud of,” Mounce said.
She said she felt frustrated that the city of Lodi found out about the issue through a letter in the newspaper, instead of the Lodi Unified School District telling the city that they needed a flagpole at their games.
“If we are going to be standing and doing the pledge and doing the national anthem, then by all means we should have a flagpole,” Mounce said.