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VFW commander has a vision of flags lining Farmington's streets

Farmington Veterans of Foreign Wars Sypal-Lundgren Post 7662 commander Ron Ersfeld has a pretty ambitious goal to achieve before Memorial Day. Actually, he wants to achieve his goal by Monday.

Between now and next week, Ersfeld hopes to collect enough donations to fund the purchase of 72 U.S. flags, and 72 rods to mount them. Between Monday and the week before Memorial Day, he wants to get all 72 of those flags mounted on light poles in downtown Farmington.

It's his Commander's Project for this year, but it's a project he's wanted to take on for years. Farmington used to have flags flown in the downtown commerce area during patriotic holidays like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, but those flags seemed to disappear when the city of Farmington developed a new streetscape a decade ago.

"The flags all disappeared with the old lights and everything else," Ersfeld said. "Being we're the first Yellow Ribbon City, and we don't have them up, how can this be?"

So, Ersfeld set to work on his project this year. He met with Farmington parks and recreation director Randy Distad last fall to find out if putting flags on the poles downtown was possible. It was, but Ersfeld was told the city did not have a budget to purchase the flags. However, Distad offered to have city crews assist Ersfeld in hanging the flags.

Buying 72 flags at approximately $55 apiece is a big cost, though. To help defray costs, Ersfeld wrote a letter to members of the Farmington Business Association, in hopes of getting a few businesses to donate toward the project. As of Tuesday this week, he'd received donations for about 25 of the flags.

However, he's already ordered the flags. The flags are in, and they're ready to be picked up. That's scheduled for Monday. Ersfeld hopes to get a few more donations by then, but if not, he's planning to purchase the remaining flags himself and continue to ask for donations.

Ersfeld wants to line Elm Street from Akin Road to Highway 3, Third Street from Elm Street to Spruce Street, and Oak Street from the railroad tracks to Fourth Street. Each flag on order is three feet by five feet, and each comes with a six-foot mount that will be attached to the light poles. Many of the poles have existing mounts for the city's seasonal banners. The flags will be mounted above those banners, Ersfeld said.

Ersfeld put more emphasis on this year because he thought it would be a nice addition to the Veterans Memorial project in Rambling River Park, which is expected to be completed sometime this summer.

"The flag is patriotism, loyalty and something that brings us a sign of freedom," he said. "It's a one-time buy. The flags will need replacing sometime down the line, but other than that, they'll be there for many years."

Anyone who interested in making a personal donation to Ersfeld's project can drop a check off at the Farmington VFW on Third Street, with the notation of "Commander's Project" in the memo line. Or, for more information, call Ersfeld at 651-463-3870. Ersfeld is keeping track of all donors, and the VFW will host an event to thank donors at a later date.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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