CHIPLEY – What was meant as a well-intentioned expression of patriotism and support has become a point of concern in the City of Chipley.
Chipley City Council met in a workshop Thursday with concerns about the downtown flag display being chief among discussion.
Dawn Veit - known locally as “The Flag Lady” - sought approval from the Council last year to place the flags downtown after realizing flags no longer lined Downtown Chipley for patriotic holidays as in years past.
But some say while Veit's intentions are honorable, the flags have created a safety, legal, and etiquette concern.
Residents complained to the council that when the red, white, and blue banners unfurl near the intersection of State Road 77 and Church Street, the flags interfere with visibility, hindering motorists' ability to see oncoming traffic.
Some flags have reportedly fallen into the street, later picked back up by various law enforcement and city employees, while others are placed on Florida Department of Transportation Right-of-Way.
Of all the concerns voiced, however, those about proper flag etiquette appeared to ring out the most.
There was much discussion about flags touching the ground and flag base, not being properly illuminated at night, and improper juxtaposition to other flags.
Veit recently added the Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico flags to the display with the intent to show support for the hurricane-ravaged areas; however, those flags are flying at the same height as the American flag. The U.S. Flag Code would recommend that the American flag fly higher than the other flags currently display downtown.
City Administrator Dan Miner states the frequency of the display has changed from that for which the City granted permission.
“The Council approved for the flags to be flown on holidays, but it has since morphed into something different,” said Miner. “While the intentions are good - and we support that - we need to come up with an alternative area to place the flags.”
“There is a safety issue at play, as well as the flags being on Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) right of ways,” he added. “We are going to figure out a resolution that works for everyone.”
The Council agreed to reach out to Veit and discuss possible solutions that would allow for both the resolution of the concerns, as well as for the display of patriotism to continue.
Veit was unavailable for comment at press time, but has frequently discussed her passion for the flag project, telling the Washington County News in a previous interview: “I will continue to honor those who have served our nation, and I am so grateful to have the local community join me. Washington County has a heart for patriotism.”
In other business, Miner gave the council updates on various projects going on in the city.
The Pine Avenue sidewalk project is projected to be finished next month and is being removed from the list of ongoing projects within the city.
Phase I of the Fifth Street paving project is nearing completion, and Phase II is expected to go to bid soon.
The old icehouse building could possibly go into demolition as soon as January. The building has reamined vacant for a number of years due to unsafe conditions.
In other items, members of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) came before the council to request that council members implement an ordinance that would make it illegal for companies to distribute free tobacco samples at community festivals and events. The council tasked Attorney Michelle Jordan with reviewing a sample ordinance provided by SWAT. The ordinance is expected to come back before the council for approval next month.
Chipley City Council will meet again in regular session at 6 p.m. on October 10.