The Herald, Sharon, PA – Tuesday, June 3, 2014 – page B-4
Mercer County’s tourist agency will honor two of its own at the organization’s upcoming annual dinner to be held June 12 at Gallery Grille in Greenville.
Mercer County Tourist Promotion Agency, which operates under the name VisitMercerCountyPA, will bestow its James E. Winner Jr. Tourism Initiative Award to the Avenue of 444 Flags and Hillcrest Memorial Park.
This award recognizes an innovative organization or company that brings widespread attention to Mercer County as a destination. The Avenue of 444 Flags began on Feb. 11, 1980, 100 days after a mob seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, taking its entire staff hostage.
On that day, under the leadership of Tom Flynn, 100 flags were raised along the Avenue leading into Hillcrest Memorial Park. Another flag was added each day until the hostages were released on Jan. 20, 1981, 444 days after they were captured.
National and international media covered the development of the Avenue.
Hillcrest’s ongoing commitment to veterans continued with bringing the Vietnam Moving Wall to Mercer County, construction of the War on Terror Veterans Memorial, and on Veterans Day 2012, the cremated remains of nine veterans were interred among the flags, establishing the site as a Veterans Cremation Garden to include the remains of thousands of veterans.
The Bill Knecht Tourism Award will be given to state Sen. Bob Robbins, Salem Township, R-50th District.
Robbins is being honored for being a supporter of tourism in the county and its regional partners. He was one of the co-sponsors of the bill that instituted the hotel tax which benefits the promotional efforts of the agency.
He also sponsored measures which designated part of Route 6 as the “gateway to the West” and where portions of roads were designated “Crawford Lakelands Byways.”
Robbins also aided in securing a $4 million grant for the rebuilding of the Wendell August flagship store in Springfield Township.