A Black Lives Matter billboard will soon be standing above St. Helens.
Thomas O’Hanlon, a St. Helens resident and founder of the Progressive Alliance of Columbia County and his wife Kimberly O’Hanlon, have launched a fundraiser through their Facebook accounts to raise money for the billboard.
It will be installed within the next two to four weeks, according to an estimate that O’Hanlon received from advertising company, Lamar, which will design and install the billboard.
O’Hanlon said he was inspired to do this after the George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter protest in St. Helens.
“I was inspired to show a way to keep that message of support and solidarity going,” O’Hanlon said, who also said he has seen other communities also put up billboards bearing the Black Lives Matter slogan.
So far, the GoFundMe campaign has raised $2,620 for its $2,800 goal. There have been 87 donors with an average of $30 per donation, according to O’Hanlon.
The billboard will be a 10’ by 30’ and will be constructed alongside Highway 30 in St. Helens. There is also potential for the billboard to be moved occasionally, in order to keep the message from going stagnant in one location. In order to do so, the graphic will be printed on vinyl, which will make it more easily moveable.
The initial goal was to raise $1,200 to print and install the Black Lives Matter billboard for the first four weeks.
The goal was later extended to $2,000, meant to extend the display of the billboard for an additional month.
The new goal, $2,800 will extend the billboard display for an additional month, allowing the billboard to be up for three months.
A note in the GoFundMe page states that the campaign will be extended for as long as funding permits. Any excess donations for however long the billboard can be kept up will be donated to Black Lives Matter, according to O’Hanlon.
As of Friday, June 19, the goal was $505 away from having the billboard up through the month of October.
Lamar Advertising Company is an outdoor advertising company which operates billboards, logo signs and transit displays in the United States and Canada.
According to O’Hanlon, Lamar will be helping with the design, print and installation of the billboard. To create the design, O’Hanlon sent the advertising company a mock-up of the billboard and the company’s design team will finalize the graphic.
O’Hanlon said he did not have to get any additional approvals in order to install the billboard.
Overall, O’Hanlon said he hopes the billboard will send a message of support and solidarity to those within the community that support the Black Lives Matter cause.
“Hopefully it will encourage others to stand up and fight for the change that is needed,” O’Hanlon said. “I think it’s important to show solidarity in places where people might not expect it.”
An unveiling of the new billboard and a rally are planned from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 30, at the site near Motel 6 and the Village Inn along Highway 30, according to a Facebook post by Hanlon.
For more information, visit the Progressive Alliance of Columbia County Facebook page.