Hometown Heroes banners went up around Paulding last Friday, as crews from Ace Hardware and Paulding Putnam Electric Co-op donated their time to hang the banners. Pictured here is apprentice lineman Mike Taylor, from Paulding Putnam Electric C0-op, installing a banner honoring Robert Dee Treat. (Photo/Adam Papin)

Late last summer, Jon Snodgrass was hanging out at the Paulding VFW Post #587 with Karen and Matt Sunday, when the seed of an idea to honor local veterans was planted. That initial seed of an idea would bear fruit this past week around Paulding with the hanging of Paulding Hometown Heroes banners throughout the village this past Friday.

The two’s conversation that day turned to the hometown heroes’ banners in other communities along US-127. He said to Karen, “We have a beautiful square. We get so many compliments on our courthouse. Wouldn’t it look cool if we had banners, too.”

“She said, ‘yeah, we need to work on that.’ And sure enough, we did it,” said Snodgrass.

Sunday added, “John and I had seen other towns doing it and discussed that we should try and get them started here.”

Sunday and Snodgrass contacted Robin Eberly to start working on layouts for the banners. “We started checking out designs and seeing which ones would be fitting and appropriate,” added Snodgrass.

The two typed up an application form for area residents to sponsor someone. They also started acquiring the necessary permissions for the project to ensure the banners could be hung in the community. Paulding’s village council backed the idea and AEP said utility poles were available, so they moved forward with how to hang them.

Lance Sinn of Ace Hardware helped research what brackets would be needed to hang the banners, and VFW Post #587 donated the $2,300 to purchase the brackets.

“We got enough brackets for 100 brackets,” said Snodgrass. “We weren’t sure how many we were going to get. We ended up with 79 banners right now.”

Donations made the project possible. In addition to the VFW’s purchase of the brackets, Paulding Putnam Electric Co-op donated their services to hang the banners on utility poles lining US-127.

“When I got a hold of George (referring to George Carter, the CEO of Paulding-Putnam Electric Co-op), he didn’t bat an eye. I asked is there any way … He said, ‘Yep, just let us know,’” said Snodgrass.

As he watched crew members hanging banners, Carter explained why the co-op got involved, “One of our seven co-operative principles is commitment to the community, and there is no higher commitment than honoring our veterans. That’s why we are out here.”

Lance Sinn, of Ace Hardware, donated his time and his lift to hang banners around the square, while the Paulding Police Department directed traffic around where the co-op’s linesmen worked on US-127.

“It took a lot of people to make everything happen,” said Sunday. “We did this with no money or not too much money. The sponsors paid for the banners, but nearly everything else was donated. There was no profit.”

Robin Eberle printed the banners, and he worked with Sunday and Snodgrass to keep costs as low as possible. Other banners they looked at were one-sided and ranged in cost between $120-150, but Eberle was able to create a larger, two-sided banner for the same cost.

“He gave us a really good deal on the banners, and that’s what the sponsors paid for. The banner itself.”

Eberle continued, “We saved them quite a bit of money from other venues and pretty much made it as efficient as we could.”

The organizers plan to hang the banners through Veterans Day in November, take them down during the winter, and then hang them again next year. Once they decide that a banner is ready to be retired, and as long as it is still presentable, the banner will be returned to whomever sponsored it.

“We know we can get two years. We may be able to continue to a third year if they still look presentable,” said Sunday.

“We know what is going to happen,” said Snodgrass. “People will say, ‘We didn’t know about it. Can we get one?’ Well, you can next year. Right now, we have 79 of them. Next year, we may have over a hundred.”

Snodgrass added, “I told Karen and Robin, if we have to run all the way to Cecil and Latty, we will.” He hopes one day to see US-127 designated as the Hometown Hero Banner Highway. “The city of Bryan has them. Van Wert and Celina have them. We have them now. I would love to get a hold of the council in Sherwood and see if they are interested in the project.”

With potential help from elected officials, he envisions putting a sign at the edge of town that says, “We are a Hometown Heroes Banner Community.”

Eberle knows the driving force behind the project, “John and Karen were so organized. They knew what they wanted, and they got everything ready. Think of all the parts that had to come together for this. It’s amazing they pulled this together in a short period of time.”

And now, everyone traveling US-127 through Paulding this Memorial Day will be able to honor the village’s hometown heroes.