ROCK SPRINGS — Despite some bumps along the way, community members worked together to repair the flag pole on Dewar Drive and after an absence of more than one year, a giant version of Old Glory is once again waving in the breeze and greeting residents and visitors alike.
The project was completed in time for a Flag Day rededication ceremony Friday morning. Community members and officials gathered at the corner of Dewar Drive and Gateway Boulevard to honor the flag, recognize those responsible for the successful repairs and to watch members of the Rock Springs Fire Department carefully hoist a larger-than-life flag once again. Hand-size versions of the American flag were handed out to spectators by the Rock Springs Rotary Club, and the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter provided pamphlets on proper etiquette. Colors were presented, prayers offered, awards given, speeches made and patriotic songs sung.
SAVING THE FLAG POLE
Maintenance of the pole and flag has been a project of the Rock Springs Rotary Club since it was first installed and dedicated just days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Club members made the decision to no longer fly a flag on the pole in 2018 when it was discovered to be leaning. It was inspected that summer by a professional “pole jack” who, with assistance from the RSFD, climbed the pole and inspected each weld. It was determined that several of the centralizers that kept the pole straight were in need of repair. As a result of the inspection, preliminary estimates put the cost of repairs in the $10,000 range.
The Rotary Club, with help from the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce, launched a fundraising campaign for the repair.
On July 4, 2018, Rob Norton of John Bunning Transfer called acting Rotary President Ken Wilbert and offered his services. A short time later, David Miller of R & M Welding also called to volunteer equipment and labor.
By late August, about $1,000 had been raised. At the Sept. 11 Rotary Club meeting, Cindy Jansa of Pioneer Gasket of Wyoming presented Acting President Ken Wilbert with a check for $10,000 to go toward pole repairs. Success seemed imminent.
Then, efforts came to a standstill in October.
BUMP IN THE ROAD
Club members realized that the company they thought would fix the pole actually intended to act as a “conductor” while others did the work, according to Wilbert. The company also said it needed to be indemnified — secured against legal liability for its actions.
Rotarian Curt Barker, retired facilities manager with Sweetwater County School District No. 1, started exploring other options. Research included looking back at Rock Springs City Council meeting minutes from the year 2000. The investigation revealed that the city of Rock Springs is the actual owner of the flag pole and even had an insurance policy on it.
“The Rotary had always assumed it was our pole,” Wilbert said.
The delay, however, was actually a good thing according to Wilbert, since it provided an opportunity to find out more about liability issues involved. The city jumped into the project, and Paul Kauchich, director of engineering and operations, began helping with coordination efforts.
Repairs to the pole were successfully completed in April and took only a few days.
The bottom portion of the pole is a 25-foot-high pipe. Inside is a smaller pipe that telescopes upward. John Bunning Transfer supplied a crane that was hooked to most of the pole before it was cut free from the bottom portion. It was then laid along the ground. Miller of R & M Welding inspected all welds and made needed repairs. Afterward, Rotary Club members applied two coats of paint. Once dry, the pole was again hooked up to cables, raised and welded back to the bottom portion.
“It all went so smoothly,” Wilbert said.
Due to volunteer work and donated equipment, the total cost ended up being the price of paint, $600, a small fraction of the initial estimate. Donations in the pole repair account will now go toward flag maintenance. None of the donors had a problem with that, Wilbert said. Each flag costs approximately $1,800, and a flag can only fly a short time in the Wyoming wind before repairs are needed.
Friday morning’s ceremony began with a welcome by Wilbert and presentation of colors by American Legion Archie Hay Post 24 and Tom Whitmore Post 28 as well as Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2321. Gene Emerson offered the invocation.
Frank Prevedel gave the keynote address, followed by a presentation by Doug Uhrig of the American Legion Archie Hay Post 24. Both reflected on the American flag’s importance and inspiration.
Pole repair awards were presented to David Miller, Warren Anderson and Billy Black of R & M Welding; Rob Norton and Dave Bunning of John Bunning Transfer; and Mayor Tim Kaumo and Kauchich with the city of Rock Springs. Sponsor awards went to Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Pioneer Gasket of Wyoming, Dominion Energy and United Steelworkers Union Local 13214.
Music was provided by Curt Baker, Angie Smith and Gene Emerson. Curt Barker led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance, and Richard Carlson offered the closing prayer.