If you drove on Ladd Road last Monday, Columbus Day, you couldn’t miss dozens of American flags, waving in the wind. They were affixed to every electric pole on the four miles of Ladd Road and a few adjoining streets.
The flags seem to appear only on holidays, beginning sometime this year. Readers first took note of them on the Fourth of July, when two wrote letters to the editor thanking the person or people responsible for the “beautiful sight.”
“Being a patriotic veteran myself, this sight was certainly heartwarming and made my day and likely did many others,” wrote Oakdale resident Brian O’Bannon.
Indeed, whoever is behind the flags likely spent hundreds of dollars purchasing them and many hours putting them up and taking them down during the last few holidays.
The only problem is, those power poles are the property of the Modesto Irrigation District, which has rules prohibiting anyone from affixing anything, flags and their mounts included, to the poles.
I wrote about the hazards associated with using the poles as displays in August, when hundreds of “We Buy Houses” signs were stapled to the poles around Modesto.
Of course, the American flag in no way can be compared to neon, cardboard advertisements, but the hazards are the same.
Obstructions on the poles can injure MID workers who have to climb them, and they can affect the integrity of the pole, said spokeswoman Melissa Williams.
Even though the good-intentioned person or people on Ladd promptly remove the flags after the holidays, the metal mounts remain screwed into all of the poles.
“We are not anti-flag, but the power poles are not the best place for them to display or affix the flags,” Williams said. “We encourage people to stay away from electric facilities and equipment.”
She said MID doesn’t know who is behind the flags but, “If someone comes forward and says they are doing this and wants to talk about it, we can educate them about why the poles are not the best and try to work with them on the best venue or location for the flags.”
While it is low on the list of MID’s priorities, the mounts will be removed as time permits or as necessary for power maintenance projects or emergency work, Williams said, as with any signage, staples, nails, screws and other hazards workers encounter.