Sunday , May 27, 2018 - 5:00 AM1 comment
NORTH OGDEN — While those in most Northern Utah cities talk a good game about supporting the military, people in North Ogden have taken their appreciation to another, much more visible level.
The North Ogden Heroes Boulevard program has been active for nearly a year. It features large banners with photographs of some of the area’s active-duty military. The banners are attached to light poles on both sides of Washington Boulevard from approximately 2300 North to 2600 North — the city’s main street and largest commercial corridor.
North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor said city resident Kris Barker proposed the idea after visiting Bullhead City, Arizona, which has a similar display called the “Highway of Heroes.”
City Recorder Annette Spendlove said Barker raised funds for the initial batch of banners, but the city has since taken over the program.
To qualify, honorees must be an active-duty member of any branch of the United States Armed Forces. They must also be a resident or an immediate family member of a permanent resident of North Ogden or a neighboring city. Initial and annual verification of active-duty status is required.
Spendlove said nominations are accepted year-round, but new banners are installed once a year around Memorial Day. The banners are made by North Ogden-based Jones Shirts & Signs. Spendlove has managed the program for the city and says interest has been high since the beginning. The city accepts nominations for the program on their website.
“We definitely haven’t had any trouble with people coming forward to nominate (military members),” Spendlove said. “It’s been a really well-received project.”
Though he had no hand in the effort, the boulevard project has special meaning for Taylor.
The mayor has been a member of the National Guard since 2003 and is currently on a U.S. Army deployment in Afghanistan. In January, he announced he’d be taking a yearlong hiatus from his mayoral duties to complete the mission, which is expected to last about 12 months.
Brent Chugg was appointed temporary mayor of North Ogden on January 11.
Taylor has deployed several times previously, including twice to Iraq and now twice to Afghanistan. A major in the guard, Taylor currently serves as a division chief in Utah Army National Guard headquarters.
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The mayor spoke to the Standard-Examiner about the boulevard project by email, writing from his post in Afghanistan.
“The reaction in the community has been absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “People love the banners and love seeing their loved ones get recognized for their military service. It adds a special touch to our main street, and reminds everyone that freedom is not free.”
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