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County won't fly flags at half-staff

County won't fly flags at half-staff

City, state lower flags for Orlando victims

June 14th, 2016 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News
Cole County Courthouse

UPDATE: Flags lowered at county facilities

City, state and federal offices around Jefferson City lowered flags to half-staff after President Barack Obama put out a proclamation Sunday following the killing of 50 people in a mass shooting in Orlando.

Cole County, meanwhile, has opted against lowering its flags.

Although Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman thought flags should be lowered, Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle and Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher believe the county should be as consistent as possible when events occur that call for the flag to be lowered, and they oppose the lowering of the flags at this time.

"We (the commission) still have control over how the flags are displayed," Hoelscher said. "Lowering it too much takes away from the honor. I feel for these victims and for their families, but I don't feel this was a time for the flag to be lowered."

The National Flag Foundation says the U.S. Flag Code directs flags to be flown at half-staff "by order of the President upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory."

City, state and federal offices around Jefferson City lowered flags to half-staff after President Barack Obama put out a proclamation Sunday following the killing of 50 people in a mass shooting in Orlando. Cole County, meanwhile, has opted against lowering its flags.

City, state and federal offices around Jefferson City...

The code adds: "In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law."

Obama's proclamation said: "As a mark of respect for the victims of the act of hatred and terror perpetrated on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Florida, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds "

He directed the flags stay at half-staff until sunset Thursday.

The Cole County Courthouse and other county facilities qualify as "public buildings and grounds" under the president's proclamation.

In September 2015, county commissioners decided not to make any changes to the county flag ordinance adopted in 2012. The ordinance set the guidelines for the practice of flying the American flag at half staff at all Cole County buildings.

Flags are to be flown at half-staff on days such as Memorial Day and Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15; by order of the president upon the death of principal figures of the U.S. government or for a member of the U.S. armed forces; by order of the governor upon the death of a member of the U.S. armed forces from Missouri; and Pearl Harbor Day on Dec. 7.

Scheperle said: "I want to honor those who have served our country, but we can't lower it for every event like this that occurs. I do feel for those who were gunned down, but I don't think it warrants lowering the flag."

Bushman said he sent Hoelscher and Scheperle "an email asking about this Monday morning and told them how I felt, but they came back with their answers, so the majority rules.

"I know the ordinance was passed, but we are still a government entity, whether that be federal, state or county — and I thought we should be unified. I agree we don't need to lower the flag for everything, but something like this, I think it's appropriate."