, Derry, New Hampshire


December 5, 2013

Flag collection box stolen soon after installation

JROTC students sought to collect worn flags

DERRY — A brand-new flag collection box has disappeared from the town transfer station just a week after it was installed.

Students in Pinkerton Academy’s JROTC program had installed the heavy donation box to collect worn American flags.

Transfer station employees are looking at surveillance video that might show what happened to the metal box.

The students installed it Nov. 22. When Frank Hooley, a cadet’s father, went to empty it Saturday, the box was nowhere to be found.

“He looked and looked and couldn’t find it,” said Col. Howie Steadman, JROTC advisor.

It was a joint effort between the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the JROTC class.

The bin was a refurbished mailbox, donated for the purpose. Students sanded, repaired and painted the box.

Steadman said someone may have wanted the bin for its scrap value. The box weighs 200 pounds or more, he said, and would be difficult for one person to move.

“It would pretty much have to be two people,” he said.

Recycling coordinator Joanie Cornetta said she doesn’t know when the box disappeared. She said she would review the surveillance tape.

“We haven’t checked yet,” she said Tuesday.

The flag box was a good idea, she said. Transfer station workers often find old flags mixed in with household trash.

“We’ve been taking flags (out of the trash) for years,” Cornetta said.

She said one transfer station worker, a Vietnam veteran, would take any flags found in the trash to the local VFW post home in Derry.

Steadman said he hopes the box will be found. The project was special to his students, he said. They study flag history, proper handling and folding as part of their curriculum.

“Students, they are just scratching their heads,” he said. “We just did this thing.”

Steadman said anyone with information can contact Derry police.

Police Capt. Vernon Thomas wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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