By Grace Moore
At a work session of the Moorcroft council on Monday night, concern was expressed by Mayor Pro-Tem Paul Smoot and Councilman Owen Mathews regarding the long range maintenance plan and funding for the flags that are being positioned around the MTC.
While both men agree that the flags are a beautification of the property and admit, as Mathews said, “it is a noble thing,” future considerations were not addressed nor permission sought before the installation was initiated.
Mathews was careful with his words when he spoke to the potential issue.
“I thought about this really hard before I said anything, it’s one of those things that can be emotional because of the ideal behind it and at no point is any of this against that at all,” he said.
“What’s developed from the original thought is really good and I don’t want to undermine that at all.”
He noted, though, that the installation was not brought before the MTC committee or the council and no plan for funding for the future maintenance and replacement of the flags was set in place.
Smoot agreed and shared that in previous years, his parents, Bob and Martha Smoot, who were strong volunteers and advocated for the beautification of the town, had often acted in the same manner and were, likewise, short-sighted in their understanding and preparations for the future ramifications when they were no longer able to manage their projects. He said that he is still paying for those ideas today.
“As a collective governing body, we should all be involved in this process. The concern I have is: what’s the plan? I think we should sit down and talk about this, our long term goal and our long term plan,” Smoot said.
He said that the cost to the town later may not be money, but effort and time for the maintenance crew to manage the flags – removing tattered flags, putting them to full mast or half mast and so on.
“A lot of loose ends that [we] have to tie up because we’ve set no money aside to take care of this,” he said.
Councilman Dick Claar, who spearheaded this project, explained that, in the future, if council chooses, the poles can be removed and the flags “can disappear forever”. Claar told the council that, at this time, he has “more donations than holes up there” and Mathews alluded to the possibility that the continued donations could be set as a maintenance fund for the existing flags after the project is complete.
Nancy Feehan, president of the MTC committee, advocated the project and said, “If something comes up that they need to be taken care of, there will be volunteers buying more flags or taking them down or whatever it is that needs to be done.” She admonished the council, “We’ve got to come together and volunteer and doing things together and that’s what I see those flags doing.”
The issue was volatile and Johnny Faye Claar, during a heated verbal discussion with Mathews, left the council chamber after resigning from her volunteer position at Starfish Second Hand Store. Smoot noted that this strong emotional response to the business side of this particular project is precisely the issue they are trying to mitigate.
Claar asked his fellow council for permission to lay eight more flags around the garden and six more in front of the gymnasium doors. “It’s too much to try to take care of after that,” he said.
Smoot asked that, before permission is given for any further installation, the MTC committee each advocate the enterprise via email to the council.
“I agree with Owen 100 percent [and], this is just my opinion, If we’re going to do this and do it right, I want a ‘snap shot picture’ of what this is going to look like and what the long term goal is,” Smoot said.