By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published: June 1, 2013 4:00AM


No donation is too small.

That's the message that the Friends of the Flagpole and Hometown Bank in Ravenna are hoping to get across to would-be donors.

Donors who contribute at least $5 toward the campaign to refurbish the downtown Ravenna icon at the bank will receive a commemorative magnet. The photo of the flagpole on the magnet was taken by Tom Riddle, whose family figures prominently in the community's history.


"We feel it's the community's flagpole," said Jack Schafer, a businessman who heads Friends of the Flagpole along with attorney Peggy DiPaola. "We hope everyone will be involved with this, from the biggest donations to the little ones. So when we refurbish it and bring it back, people can point to it and say, 'I helped do that.'"


The Friends of the Flagpole are seeking to raise $150,000. In addition to taking the flagpole down and shipping it out of state so it can be restored, the money also includes improvements such as erecting a fence around the pole and providing lighting for the flag around the clock.


Bruce Kirby of Hometown Bank's Ravenna branch said the flagpole's proximity to the bank was one reason he wanted to help the campaign. He also said the bank believes in protecting the historical integrity of the community.

Jack Schafer and Bruce Kirby


"The flagpole is an icon," he said. "When you come to Ravenna from any direction, you can see the flag."


In 2011, after two people climbed the pole, township trustees considered the possibility of giving the flagpole to the city of Ravenna or Portage County, but ended up having a study done on the flagpole's structural integrity. The resulting report from Osborn Engineering called for $206,000 in repairs. After adding $30,000 in construction documents and $10,000 to run a camera inside the main support beams to make sure there's no corrosion inside the pipes, that bill approaches $250,000.


Balking at the price tag, trustees considered razing the flagpole and replacing it with a smaller model, but have since backed away from that plan when the Friends of the Flagpole brought a proposal to save the 120-year-old landmark.


Friends of the Flagpole obtained a quote from Spensiere LLC, which proposed to take the structure down in three sections, take it to its facility in Syracuse, N.Y., repair it and ship it back to Ravenna and reassemble it. Spensiere, the group noted, recently refurbished a similar pole in Palmyra, N.Y. The estimate also includes work to the site, including a fence around the bottom to discourage climbers. The group thinks preventative maintenance can be done for about $10,000 per year.


At this point, DiPaola said, the group has raised $80,000. The group has raised $4,000 of the $10,000 it needs to meet the challenge issued by Don Wilson. Ravenna Township trustees tried to donate $10,000, but learned the match must come from private citizens.


DiPaola said the match does not have to come from one person, which explains why the group is almost halfway to the point where it could claim Wilson's donation.

"We've even had some people who have already donated make another donation to get the match," she said.


Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com