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Massena Post Office flagpole getting a facelift

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MASSENA - The flagpole at the U.S. Post Office in Massena is getting a facelift as part of the downtown revitalization effort.

“It was brought to our attention that it needed to be done. It’s long overdue,” said Joe Cortese, a Massena electrician and member of the Downtown Coalition who could be found this week with Wesley Bovay scraping away at the long-standing paint on the pole.

Mr. Cortese said that, based on conversations with post office employees, he believes it’s been more than 30 years since the pole, which stands 45 to 50 feet, had been refurbished.

“I believe it went up in 1934, when the building went up. It’s probably 80 years old. It’s in pretty tough shape. It’s weather-beaten,” he said.

He and Mr. Bovay have spent part of their time at ground level, sometimes laying on their sides and scraping away at the base of the pole.

When it’s time to scrape up higher, they have the use of a lift provided to them by Massena Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad.

“That will get us most of the way up,” said Mr. Cortese, who got involved in the downtown effort through Michael Almasian and Crista Makdouli, other committee members in the Downtown Coalition.

Local contractor Vance Fleury has offered them another lift to get up to the area where the village’s lift won’t reach. That, Mr. Cortese said, will send them 60 feet in the air.

“It’s on a job right now. It will be available this weekend,” he said.

Mr. Fayad and Mr. Fleury aren’t the only folks providing assistance either.

“We had a lot of materials donated, Mr. Cortese said.

Even with the materials and equipment donated, it’s a slow process to restore the flagpole, he said. It was mid-afternoon one day this week, he had been there since 9 a.m. and he and Mr. Bovay were still scraping around the base.

“Probably a week,” Mr. Cortese said of the projected timeline to finish the work. “I’ve got to get it done when I can. It’s very slow.”

It’s also a painstaking process, chipping away piece by piece. He estimated there were about 34 coats of paint on the flagpole to remove.

“We’ll take it right back down as close as we can get to the metal,” he said. “It’s a little project, but it needs to be done. We’ll bring back the original green. We’ll get it down to the base green.”

The project wasn’t in the post office’s budget, according to Mr. Cortese.

“I spoke with the postmaster. It’s not in the federal budget. He’s done everything he could, but the money’s not there,” he said.

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