An elderly Korean War veteran and a few hundred dollars were all it took to get the City Council of Independence, Iowa, to reverse its decisions to stop flying the city’s most prominent American flag and not to keep its welcome sign illuminated.
Before Memorial Day, after waiting for others to step up and fund the town’s landmarks after the City Council voted unanimously on April 30 not to, Bill Coulter took matters into his own hands and offered to pay for their upkeep.
“They said ‘Welcome to Independence’ was too expensive to operate,” Coulter said of the electric bill in an interview on the Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” morning program on Tuesday. “I went to find out how expensive the bill was. It was $10 a month.”
Independence City Manager Al Roder told The Daily Signal, “We had some issues with maintenance of the flag and worked with the county to move it to the veterans memorial near the courthouse. The memorial is still being built, but the [original] discussion was to move the flagpole in light of the conditions.”
Specifically, because of high winds in the area that tatter the giant 12-foot-by-18-foot flag, the City Council must replace it every eight to 12 weeks at a cost of $310 per flag.
Coulter, whose brother and son are also veterans, was not deterred. He appeared in front of the council on Tuesday to present a proposal for the private funding of the flag and welcome sign. He already had four donors lined up who each paid for a flag, and he was willing to look for others.
After listening to Coulter’s proposal, the City Council unanimously voted to reverse its original decision, which had been made April 30. It also voted to keep financial responsibility with the city, but a group of locals have raised money for the flags.
Roder said the northeast Iowa town—whose population was just under 6,000 as of the 2010 census—has created a private-public partnership, which was what they had hoped for prior to the meeting.
“[Tuesday night’s decision] was an appropriate example of democracy at work,” he said. “The council made a decision that they thought was prudent, but the [residents] showed that they wanted it to be different, so they voiced their opinions, and their opinions made change [through the democratic process].”