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Veteran gets flag flying again at Modesto’s King-Kennedy center

Modesto firefighter Jose Valenzuela, left, and Mike Stavrakakis raise the new flag Friday afternoon, April 8, 2016, at the King-Kennedy Memorial Center in Modesto, Calif. Longtime west Modesto resident and Navy veteran George Russell looks on at right front.
Modesto firefighter Jose Valenzuela, left, and Mike Stavrakakis raise the new flag Friday afternoon, April 8, 2016, at the King-Kennedy Memorial Center in Modesto, Calif. Longtime west Modesto resident and Navy veteran George Russell looks on at right front. jlee@modbee.com

The U.S. flag was flying at the King-Kennedy Memorial Center in west Modesto on Friday for the first time in several years thanks to the volunteer efforts of Collins Electrical Co. and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 684.

Longtime west Modesto resident and Navy veteran George Russell complained to the council about a month ago that his requests to parks and recreation officials over several years to fix the flagpole at the facility, which is owned and maintained by the city, had fallen on deaf ears.

Russell also said he was upset that Modesto could appropriate $75,000 to provide meals and hotel rooms to the Amgen Tour of California for one day in May even though the professional cyclists would not be racing here and yet he could not get the city to repair the pole.

Russell said vandals had removed the cable, and that he wanted the flag permanently mounted and with a light to shine on it at night. As the council was looking into fixing the flagpole, the IBEW stepped forward and volunteered to fix it at no cost to the city; Collins Electrical helped. IBEW business representative Bobby Stutzman estimated the cost to retrofit the pole at $2,500.

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