ROXBURY, NJ – The tattered and unwieldy flagpole in the parking lot at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Kenvil will be replaced by a smaller, better looking one if a 15-year-old Roxbury Boy Scout has his way.
The Scout, James Burke, is a member of Succasunna-based Troop 54. He is pursuing the flagpole upgrade as an Eagle Scout project and he’s hoping to have the new pole installed in the spring.
The Roxbury High School sophomore is trying to raise about $1,200 for the project. In a pitch to the Roxbury Rotary Club this week, he said he’s gathered about $350 so far, some of it coming from the Roxbury Women’s Club.
Impressed by his presentation, the club agreed to chip in $250. Police Chief James Simonetti said the Roxbury Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) 311 will also contribute money.
At the VFW hall on Friday night, members gathered to shoot pool, watch TV and socialize. Outside in the parking lot, the flags atop the old pole fluttered in a cold wind as a snowstorm approached. The veterans said they were thankful for Burke’s plan and noted that other Roxbury boy scouts are helping the post with additional projects.
“It’s a good idea,” said former U.S. Army Ranger Bob Mederos. “It’s a flagpole that needs constant maintenance and we’re not equipped for that. It’s so high and we don’t have a ladder that tall. We can’t drop it because we can’t get it back up.”
Burke said his plan is to cut down the old galvanized metal pole which, according to the VFW members, was installed in the 1960s, and install a smaller fiberglass one close to the VFW hall. “It will be low-maintenance for the VFW,” he said, adding that he plans to also install paving blocks and shrubs.
The Rotarians said they believe one of the club’s members, who owns a landscaping business, would gladly donate materials to help Burke.
His proposal calls for not only removing the flagpole, but also getting rid of, or moving, the circle of artillery shells that surrounds the current flagpole. Mederos said the shells, connected by a chain, were donated long ago to the VFW by Picatinny Arsenal and were placed around the pole to protect it from snowplows and other vehicles.
It was an idea that didn’t quite succeed. “They’ve been hit several times by garbage trucks and snowplows,” said Mederos.