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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:09:25 16:26:07

GREATER PITTSTON PROGRESS FILE George Mullen hangs a Hometown Hero Banner in Avoca last year. West Pittston, Wyoming and West Wyoming will soon have banners lining their streets. Avoca also will be adding 60 new banners in time for Veterans Day.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:09:25 16:04:38

SUBMITTED PHOTO Members of the Wyoming Area Kiwanis Hometown Heroes Banner Program Committee, which is organizing the banner project in Wyoming and West Wyoming, from left, are Amy Casagrande, Tiffany Callaio, Kim Zdrojesky, President Kevin Murphy and Mike Coolbaugh. West Pittston Tomorrow is sponsoring and organizing the program in West Pittston.

Hometown Hero Banners seem to multiply on their own around Greater Pittston. One day they are lining Main Street in Avoca and the next they are popping up in Duryea and Exeter.

But getting the banners up is really a lot of work for the volunteer organizations that adopt the programs. Back in May, the Exeter Events committee began selling banners and today the borough is blanketed with 109 banners honoring the borough’s veterans, living and dead, and active military.

Lori DeAngelo and Lindo Sabatini spearheaded the drive in Exeter.

“Hanging the banners was a chore,” Sabatini said, “We had local businesses with bucket trucks volunteer to help. We are done taking orders for this year, but we will take orders for next year. Just about all the poles on the (Wyoming) Avenue have banners. As we get more orders we’ll go up Schooley. It’s a fantastic tribute to our veterans.”

Though the banners will eventually be taken down and given to the families or sponsors, Sabatini said they will leave the banners up year around for as long as they can.

Inspired by Exeter’s success, West Pittston, Wyoming and West Wyoming have started banner programs. In West Pittston, West Pittston Tomorrow is the sponsoring organization. In the Wyomings, it’s the Wyoming Area Kiwanis.

Mike Coolbaugh, of the Kiwanis, said the plan is to get the banners made and mounted by Memorial Day and to leave them up through Veterans Day.

“We’ll take them down for the winter to keep them out of the weather and so the boroughs can use the poles for Christmas decorations,” Coolbaugh said. The banners will be displayed on Wyoming and Shoemaker avenues and Eighth Street.

Tom Obruzut, of West Pittston Tomorrow, said he expects the banners to continue to multiply.

“Next year, there should be veterans banners from Kingston Corners down to Exeter Ave. in West Pittston.”

Lynn Burbank, of West Pittston Tomorrow, said they are not putting a limit on the number of banners they will sell. If they run out of poles on Wyoming Avenue, they will go up Exeter Avenue.

“If the demand increases,” she said, “we can use other streets.”

Burbank said it will be up to the families, or other banner sponsors, to verify the military service and connection to West Pittston, past or present, of the veterans depicted on the banners.

“We are using the honor system,” she noted.

The first choice of a picture for the banner is a service picture. If one is not available, an individual photo can be used, but no group photos will be accepted. Also, specific pole placement requests will be honored on a first come, first serve basis, but are not guaranteed.

For an application, email westpittstontomorrow.com or find applications at the borough building, library, or in many of the businesses in West Pittston. To view a sample banner, visit the West Pittston Tomorrow Facebook page.

According to a Wyoming Kiwanis press release, its banners will cost $225, including installation and removal. After two years, the banners will be removed and each will given to the service person or family member.

The eligibility criteria for banners in Wyoming and West Wyoming is that banners for individuals currently serving on active duty in the United States Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard) will be accepted. For the purpose of this program, “active duty” is defined as 12 months of continuous service. Also, any veteran who was honorably discharged or gave their life serving is eligible. Permanent residency in Wyoming or West Wyoming, or having a family member (spouse, parent, grandparent, child or siblings) residing in Wyoming Borough or West Wyoming Borough also is required.

The Kiwanis Club of Wyoming Area will review applications on a first come, first served basis. Once the application is verified and funding for the banner has been received, the committee will notify the applicant of the approval and create the banner.

To obtain an application, email wyomingareakiwanis@gmail.com. You also can pick up an application at the Wyoming Borough Building, 277 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, or the West Wyoming Borough Building, 464 W. Eight St., West Wyoming. Any questions, contact Mike Coolbaugh at 570-237-1080.

jsmiles@pittstonprogress.com