What's Up with That? Fairgrounds flag system prompts concern

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian arts & features reporter



We’ll find out what’s up with that

Puzzled? Perplexed? Perturbed? Does something out on the landscape have you scratching your noggin, wondering how and why?

Send “What’s up with that” questions to neighbors@columbi.... We’ll get them answered.

I work by the Clark County Fairgrounds, and something has been bothering me: the flag that flies at half-mast and has for a few weeks now. It does not come down at night, nor do they put a light on it as a show of respect. I have placed a call to the fairgrounds, and they said it was an AT&T antenna and they would need to take care of it. This is a huge flag, and I hate to see it not taken care of correctly. What’s up with that?

--Chris Gillingham

You mean, what’s half-up with that?

According to Mark McCauley, Clark County’s general services manager and chairman of the Fair Site Management Group, that flagpole is indeed a cellular telephone tower. And that AT&T is responsible for maintaining it.

“When they wanted to put a tower on the site,” McCauley said, “we said we didn’t want an ugly cell tower and they said, ‘What about a flagpole?’”

So the flagpole went up. And now it’s “got issues,” McCauley said.

“It’s a very large flag. There’s a cabling system for getting it up and down, and there are problems with that,” he said. That system was a mechanical, muscle-driven winch that has broken, he said; now, an electrical winch system has been designed, and parts for it have been ordered and delivered. “We just need a break in the weather,” McCauley said.

Speaking of which, McCauley said, the flag itself “looks great when conditions are right. There are military specifications for how to illuminate a flag.” Normally it is lit with three 400-watt floodlights, but “occasionally one will burn out, and they are not the easiest to repair or replace.” The lighting system has also been redesigned so it’s easier to maintain, McCauley added.

By the time you read this, Chris, it’s possible the work will be done, and that flag will raised, lowered and lit properly. It all depends on the weather, McCauley said.