Archive for Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Garage sale notices overload utility poles in Tonganoxie

July 30, 2003

From a distance, it looks as if a circus has come to town.

However, the bright-colored signs nailed to utility poles announce not lions, tigers and bears, but garage sales, yard sales and car washes. A quick drive around town last Thursday morning revealed at least a dozen signs stapled or nailed to utility poles.

According to one local resident, a city official and a utility company spokesperson, there's a right and a wrong way to put up garage sale signs.

Tonganoxie resident and garage sale shopper Celesta Doege said people just don't take the time to make good garage sale signs.

"They put it on a sheet of paper and then they don't put any backing to it so the wind just folds it up," Doege said. "Or, they don't put the address big enough so that you can read it from the car."

When that happens, Doege, who is 79, just drives on by.

"I'm not going to get out of the car and walk over to the post and read it," Doege said. "They need to put it on a stiff board or something and make it larger so you can read it from the road."

The change would benefit the garage sale operators because more passersby would see their signs.

"I think they're missing customers," Doege added.

There may be more to it than that.

Shane Krull, Tonganoxie city administrator, said city ordinances state that garage sale signs should be no larger than two square feet. The signs may be posted two days prior to the sale and removed within two days after the sale.

Apparently, city ordinance applies to signs staked in the ground, not attached to utility poles, Krull said.

"It doesn't say anything about fastening them to the utility poles, but I would suspect that the utility company that owns the poles would probably say no," Krull said.

Karla Olsen, senior manager of media relations for Westar Energy, agreed.

Westar owns most of the power poles in Tonganoxie, Olsen said.

"We'd really rather they didn't put signs on them, and here's the reason why: safety," Olsen said. "Our poles have electrical equipment on them and we really don't want anybody getting hurt trying to put a sign on the pole. Also, if we have to work on a particular pole, if one of our linemen happens to climb the pole, for safety reasons they'll take the signs down."

Nailing signs on poles may be a Tonganoxie tradition. But in Wichita, where Olsen works, it's not.

"I haven't ever seen a sign on one of our poles in Wichita," Olsen said. "Can't they just stick a sign in the ground near the corner?"

While it's unlikely that Westar would reprimand anyone for putting signs on their poles, Olsen said the utility corporation does ask people to refrain from using utility poles for bulletin boards.

"We'd really like to stress please don't do that," Olsen said.

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