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Twice a year, Hall replaces flags with fresh ones
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Billy Kimbrell, far right, a correctional officer with Hall County Building Maintenance, helps hoist the American and state flags Wednesday with county prisoners in front of the Gainesville branch of the Hall County Library System The flags are changed out twice a year. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

The red, white and blue are flying a little brighter today in Gainesville.

Billy Kimbrell, corrections officer with Hall County Building Maintenance, spent Wednesday replacing the faded state and national flags at several local government buildings.

"We're patriotic, we love our country and we want to make sure the flags look good and make things look good in Hall County," Kimbrell said. "We've got a lot of pride here."

Don Head, facility maintenance supervisor for Hall County Building Maintenance, said Hall County has probably been changing its flags "for forever."

"I've been here about 12 years and they've always done it here at the courthouse," he said. "We do it at several other locations also."

Flags are changed twice a year, in June and December, at the main library, the courthouse, the downtown square, the senior center and the old Liberty Mutual Building, Kimbrell said.

The county seeks bids for flag providers, but Head said the usual cost is about $40 per flag. All but the Liberty Mutual Building have two flags flying.

"This is just maintenance, to make sure they're not tattered or ripping apart at this time of year," Head said. "Normally we just set a six month's time frame and we use the Fourth of July as our starting point to make sure flags are ready, and in December to make sure the wind hasn't ripped them up."

According to the Federal Citizen Information Center, dirt can cut fabrics, dull colors and cause general wear on outdoor flags. In addition, if the flag gets wet and is folded, permanent creases and mildew damage can mar its appearance.

The center also says keeping the flagpole clean is important, as rust and scale can stain or eat holes in the fabric of the flag.

Flags were removed and folded according to government protocol.

According to the center, when folding the flag, it should be held horizontally at waist height. The lower striped section is folded lengthwise over the blue and then the flag is folded again lengthwise.

A triangular fold is started by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open edge. The outer point of the triangle is then turned inward, parallel with the open edge, to form a second triangle. That motion is repeated until the entire length is folded and only the triangular blue field should be visible.

Once replaced, the old flags are taken either to the Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion post.

Head said sometimes the flags are able to be recycled or reused.

For those that can't be recycled, the VFW post has special ceremonies.

"Every so often we will have a flag-burning ceremony where we actually cut off the metal grommets and burn the flags," said Charlie Brown, commander of VFW post 8452 in Gainesville. "(Hall County) hasn't turned any in to us for a while, but we have a lot of them right now.

"We're in the process of planning a ceremony shortly, as soon as it starts to warm up. ... We don't just pile them in a barrel and set them on fire; there are certain protocols we have to go through to do that."

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