CORRECTION: Governor to raise veterans' banners as Santa Fe City Council again delays action

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Aug. 11—Thanks to some help from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, banners meant to honor Santa Fe's veterans are close to having a new home in the City Different, signaling the potential end of months of speculation over the fate of the popular program.

The Santa Fe City Council was poised to vote Wednesday night on a resolution which would allow the banners to be erected in the Railyard District, around the Plaza and on Guadalupe Street.

But the council opted to postpone the vote until councilors could get additional information about location availability and to iron out concerns the new resolution would supersede the old resolution and, by doing so, prevent the city from installing the banners on Cerrillos Road.

"The challenge was the resolution was limited in that it replaced the proposed location and eliminates an already approved location," City Councilor Michael Garcia said during Wednesday's meeting. "We didn't want to do that."

The banners had hung on street poles along Cerrillos Road between Airport Road and Interstate 25 for the past three years, but they were removed in June after the pole's manufacturers indicated to the city the poles could not safely handle decorative banners. The city has been attempting to find a home for the banners since then.

Just hours before Wednesday's council meeting, Lujan Grisham's office sent out a news release announcing the banners are cleared for installation along

St. Francis Drive, a New Mexico Department of Transportation-maintained road, up to the Santa Fe National Cemetery on Guadalupe Street.

The first of those banners will be installed during a ceremony Thursday, according to Lujan Grisham's office.

"The banners had previously been unable to be installed on city roads as originally planned, leading the governor to step in and offer a state road to ensure the continuation of the valued local program," Nora Meyers Sackett, press secretary for Gov. Lujan Grisham, wrote in an announcement Wednesday afternoon.

The banners, which are part of the Hometown Heroes program, include the names, faces, rank and conflict each veteran was involved in.

Previously, city staff had discussed installing the banners just along poles in the Railyard District and around the Plaza, rotating out banners over time, but that compromise was slammed by some veterans' groups who were concerned about the time each banner would be on display.

Traditionally, the banners go up just before Memorial Day in late May and come down after Veterans Day in mid-November.

Carmela Quintana, commander of American Legion Post 12, the local veteran group spearheading Santa Fe's version of the program, said she was concerned about the original proposal but "something was better than nothing, especially for those families who paid this year."

She said she was in favor of the new proposal, but questions still remain on who will erect the banners and when.

The resolution the council postponed Wednesday night states the American Legion

Post 12 will be responsible to cover the cost to install the banners, but Quintana said the American Legion could not bear the expense.

"We would have basically zeroed out our funds," Quintana said in a phone interview before the council meeting.

City code prevents Santa Fe from spending city resources to install banners. However, the Public Service Company of New Mexico has indicated in the past that it would be willing to donate resources to make sure the banners are installed.

Ray Sandoval, spokesman for the Public Service Company of New Mexico, could not be reached for comment on whether PNM was still going to offer its resources, but Quintana said the utility company has been "unwavering" in its support.

"They have been amazing," she said.

Correction: This story has been amended to reflect the following correction. The sidebar to a previous version of this story incorrectly described the lead-up to a vote on a contract for audit preparation services. The sidebar stated the contract was approved without discussion on the consent agenda. The item was actually pulled from the consent agenda and approved after a period of discussion.