The Military Affairs Council held a brief meeting Thursday afternoon where they discussed banners hung downtown in honor of Veterans Day.

Recently, the MAC hung banners on light poles along Washington Street featuring the names and photos of local veterans. The banners were offered by the MAC to local family members of veterans who wished to honor them.

MAC Chair Nate Butler indicated that he was pleased with the results of the project, especially considering it was something of a last-minute project.

“I personally thought it was too late to get in there, but I was going to support it,” he said. “I didn’t think we’d get very many, but we actually in a short time got a lot of them. There’s 17 out there. We’re going to put up another one tonight when this is over. So this is good. I think it’s a good start.”

Butler hopes the MAC continues the project next year and this time to start selling banners early.

“Next year, we’re going to put in a big push early,” he said. “It would be great to be able to line Washington (Street) all the way down there on both sides of that and I think we can.”

He said relatives of veterans were “excited” to see their family members honored in such a way and said he had high hopes for the future.

“I think the goal down the road is to — you have so many people wanting them up on the (poles) we have to do a lottery for them,” Butler said. “It’s just getting them out there. I think we can do it. I really do.”

Member Phyllis Fitzgerald was also pleased with the results of the project and suggested the banners be sold all year long and hung for other veteran-related holidays, including Memorial Day and Independence Day.

“I think it would be a good idea to keep getting them,” she said.

Sales Tax

Also during the MAC meeting, members discussed Junction City’s higher-than-average sales tax numbers this year.

Both Junction City and Geary County have seen large amounts of sales tax come in during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the city noting record-breaking months during the height of the pandemic. At the same time, Manhattan and Riley County have seen decreased numbers.

Member John Montgomery attributed the lower sales tax numbers in Manhattan and Riley County to fewer people traveling out of communities such as Junction City to shop in Manhattan and instead choosing to spend their dollars at home.

“There’s probably some Junction City people not going to Manhattan to shop,” Montgomery said.

MAC Director Craig Bender talked about shopping local.

“We always say shop small, we always say shop local, but I don’t feel that we always put out why it’s important,” he said. “We’ve made it blatantly obvious why it’s important over the past two or three months … We’ve had literally three of our best months in like a decade. I put down the majority to people staying home, whether it’s either buying online — the taxes stay local — or just shopping local and the taxes staying here. It can be as small as, ‘hey, I need to fill up my tank with gas,’ and instead of doing it in Manhattan or Topeka, you wait until you get back to Junction City. Or if you need to pick up something small and you pick it locally.”

Sales tax money goes back into the community, Bender said.

“If you want your streets fixed faster or you want better parks, being willing to shop local not only helps your local businesses but also helps your community,” Bender said.

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