Rockwall official ordered to buy new flagpole, donate to veterans

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by JASON WHITELY

WFAA

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 12:13 AM

ROCKWALL - The new Rockwall County Courthouse has a solemn side, where symbols mark sacrifice.

But veterans see the county's veteran's memorial as stained.

"It makes my blood boil," said Lt. Col. Tom Galli, U.S. Army, Ret. "Why would somebody mess with us?"

At issue are the flags flanking the memorial.

"Right after we tell people how wonderful it is, they'll always say 'But hey you had some crazy elected official come cut down the flagpole,'" Galli added.

In February, County Commissioner Jerry Wimpee had five feet cut off the American flagpole, which made it the same height as the Texas and POW flags flying alongside it.

"He should have a felony conviction. That should be on his record," said Galli.

Now, ten months later, the commissioner did not admit guilt, but did agree to a settlement with a special prosecutor.

Wimpee, 68, will pay $3,315 for a new flagpole. He will also donate $2,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project;  not violate the law for the next two years;  and penned an apology to Rockwall County.

"I regret that my actions were offensive to some people," Wimpee wrote.

The special prosecutor has Commissioner Wimpee's $3,315 check, and will hold onto it until Rockwall County Commissioners meet Friday afternoon to decide whether to repair the altered pole or replace it.

Wimpee told News 8 he is currently recovering from pneumonia, but was only trying to follow the flag code when he had the pole's height reduced.

"He respects veterans," said Toby Shook, Wimpee's attorney. "His father was a veteran. He understands his actions may have offended some veterans and other citizens, and he's apologized for that."

But it's an apology veterans like Galli likely will not accept until the flagpole gets fixed.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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