C Hill flag progresses

The new C Hill flag is a step closer to unfurling. Volunteers now have a solution to a question raised by the U.S. Forest Service: Whether the 8,000-square-foot flag would act as a giant mirror blinding motorists and pilots.

Volunteers have been painting non-reflective, clear varnishes over the panels to dull their gloss.

After a series of tests, they have a first draft to take to the Forest Service, which owns the land where the flag will be.

"We're feeling very optimistic about it and we hope to meet with the Forest Service next week," said the C Hill Flag Foundation President Robin Williamson.

The new flag would replace a slightly smaller one which was destroyed in a December windstorm. It was installed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The foundation has delayed ordering the 390 4-by-5-foot aluminum panels required for the new flag because the criteria given by the Forest Service have changed.

"It's an ever-evolving process," Williamson said. "The panels are going to be the major cost in the project -- over $20,000 -- so before we order them we want to make sure our answer to the Forest Service's concerns is one that's going to be acceptable to them."

In the meantime the flag team has encountered a new problem -- rock-hard soil.

When an honor crew from the Stewart Conservation Camp tried to dig into the ground to place anchors they found the ground almost impenetrable.

"These are guys that bench press 450 pounds and they couldn't do it," said Tod Jennings, chief operations officer for the project. "You get down about a foot and then you hit hardpan."

The foundation has opted to have a pneumatic rock drill and a 4,300-pound air compressor airlifted to the site. Jennings contacted the Nevada Air National Guard which used their twin-rotor Chinook helicopter to help with construction of the first C Hill Flag. Before the Guard can accept the mission, however, the foundation is required by law to offer the job to civilian operators.

Jennings said he called the commercial helicopter company El Aero Services, Inc.

"They said they can only lift 1,800 pounds. They told me there's no (civilian group) in the area that's going to be able to lift 4,300 pounds."

Jennings said he hopes the Guard will move the compressor free as part of their Innovative Readiness Training Program.

He said United Rentals has offered to rent the air-compressor at a deep discount.

The new flag will be held in the ground by two-foot deep anchor bolts that expand underground.

Well-casings will be secured to those with steel cable. A steel frame will be welded to the well-casings and the colored-aluminum panels will be secured to the frame.

The flag foundation has collected most of their supplies for the flag.

It has the anchors, well-casings and steel cable but have yet to order the iron frame.

People shouldn't wonder why there's nothing going on up at the flag site lately, Jennings said.

"Don't get discouraged," he said. "It may not look like there's much going on up there, but believe me we're doing a lot behind the scenes."

The C Hill Flag Foundation will have a float in the Nevada Day Parade on Nov. 1. Organizers are still planning to have the new flag in place by Veterans Day.

"That's the goal," Jennings said. "It's really hard to make a commitment because of all the setbacks we're facing but that's the time we'd like to have it done by."

As work continues, Jennings urged people to stay away from the flag site.

"There's still rebar up there," he said. "If anyone goes up there they need to use extreme caution. It is dangerous up there. It is still a work site."


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