THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY THE FLAG STILL FLIES!
Posted By : manager
Posted : January 27, 2024
By Compatriot Robert K. Merting
The Adam Washington Ballenger Camp in Spartanburg proudly reports our beloved banner waives beautifully over I-85 twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. As you may recall, the entire Division worked tirelessly to secure the donations necessary to raise a 30’ x 50’ Confederate Naval Jack on a 120’ pole along I-85 in Spartanburg County. We had our official dedication on October 22, 2022, and we have flown the Naval Jack nearly non-stop since then. Why nearly? On our own volition, we have removed the flag a time or two when storms are expected. We even raised the SC Flag once, because we are proud of our state, but the community feedback was such that we quickly returned the Naval Jack. We typically fly the Naval Jack in the 20’ x 30’ size because: 1) it is easier to handle; 2) it is cheaper to replace, and most importantly; 3) it catches the wind and flies better! As we approach the anniversary of our dedication, and since the pole has been up and flying a flag for more than a year, we wanted to give the state an update. As you are likely aware, this effort has not been without a challenge. Spartanburg County Council has been quite vocal against our flag. The Council has denigrated our free speech and alleged our flag is illegal. The Council goaded the County Planning Department into “Flag Still Flys,”
citing us for a violation and requesting us to remove our flag. We didn’t. Instead, we appealed the citation. We also brought a suit to declare the flag complied with the law when established. Why? Because the camp enquired as to what permits were necessary to place our flag pole on the site. Six times we asked, and six times we were told no permit was required.
We pleaded and finally got an electrical permit. We had a commercial electrician handle all the electrical work, and we had the work inspected. No complaints and all was well. We placed our pole on the side of I-85, and no complaints. We raised the SC flag and no complaints. But when we raised the Naval Jack, and residents and passers-by began to loudly protest its presence, the County Planning Department changed the rules about flag poles. We then received the notice of violation attempting to ex-post facto apply the new rules to our existing pole and flag. We appealed the citation and retained counsel from Greenville to help us. (Thank you to Josh Hawkins and my fellow W&L generals Ethan Jedziniak and Helena Jedziniak.) We brought the matter to the Spartan-Burg County Board of Zoning Appeals where we argued that County ordinances, as they existed at the relevant times, did not require a permit for our actions. The County Planning Department of course argued to the contrary, but when asked directly if a permit was required for a flagpole ad-mitted it was not! The Board saw through the fluff arguments and rescinded the notice of violation giving us the day! The County Council continued to denigrate our flag and went so far as to denigrate the Board of Zoning Appeals. They also goaded the County Administrator into appealing the decision of the Board to the circuit court where we already had a civil action against the County. While the County is bringing an appeal, which has yet to be heard, they have argued against the civil action. The civil case has been paused awaiting a determination on a motion to dismiss. The appealed matter is awaiting a date for the appeal. In the meantime, the Naval Jack flies proudly, and we are prepared to continue the fight. We appreciate all of the support given by the state to make this dream possible, and we hope you will continue to support us as we fly South Carolina’s largest Confederate Naval Jack!
Robert K. Merting, Judge Advocate
Editor’s Note: Compatriot Merting is the Immediate Past Commander of Ballenger Camp #68. It was his vision to have The Flag placed in a prominent location somewhere along I-85 in Spartanburg County. This article appeared in “The Confederate Yell”, the newsletter of the Ballenger Camp, in October of this year.