C-Hill flag held up by U.S. Forest Service over shiny panels

In the shadow of the second anniversary of Sept. 11, the grass-roots effort to erect a permanent American flag on a hill overlooking the capital city has been halted by U.S. Forest Service officials who fear the flag may shine too brightly.

"I'm furious with them," said Carson City Supervisor Robin Williamson, who has worked with the C Hill Foundation to raise funds and put plans together.

The foundation planned to have the flag in place before the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks -- the event that sparked locals to place the first flag placed on the hill above the C. After heavy winds destroyed the original vinyl flag, plans started to build a permanent structure.

The U.S. Forest Service issued a five-year permit for the foundation to use public lands after the city assumed responsibility for maintenance and repair or removal of the flag if the foundation should disband.

However, the foundation was asked to meet five requirements before officials would allow the flag to be built -- stabilize the flag from become flying debris in high winds, keep the area erosion-free, prevent hazards for children, use proper flag protocol, and use materials that won't allow the flag to reflect too brightly on the city.

"We want to make sure the flag has high visual quality and doesn't become an annoyance with reflection into the city," said Larry Randall, supervisory forester with the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The Forest Service is concerned a shiny flag could become a public nuisance or a safety issue for residents.

"Once that 8,000-foot flag get up on the hill, the last thing we want to do is to have to fix it. We'd rather get it right the first time," Randall said.

The foundation raised $45,000 from residents and companies in support of the flag over the past year. Construction on anchors and foundation began in mid-August, in an attempt to finish before Sept. 11.

Three-hundred-and-ninety 4-by-5-foot aluminum panels colored red, white and blue will be produced at a plant in Philadelphia and shipped to Carson City, a process that takes at least three weeks. Stars will be applied once the panels arrive.

The Forest Service rejected the latest selection of paint for the flag because the manufacturer described it as a high-gloss brilliance. The panels will be dimpled and will likely be covered with dust shortly after they are put in place, Williamson said.

"I am completely frustrated with them," Williamson said. "I don't know what criteria they're going from. They're just eyeballing it. It's been holding up the whole thing from the beginning."

The aluminum panels can warp if the paint absorbs too much sun, and at a 45-degree angle, it is uncertain if any reflection would affect residents, Williamson said. After speaking with the Forest Service on Monday, Williamson wrote Gov. Kenny Guinn and the state's senators to ask for help in the situation, she said.

The foundation is now looking to finish the project before Nevada Day or Veteran's Day.


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