ROCKWALL – After months of investigations and discussions, the County Courthouse flagpole issue has finally been resolved, resulting in Commissioner Jerry Wimpee writing the letter of apology shown below to those who were offended by his actions and paying the full amount of $3,315 to have a new flag pole installed in place of the altered one.
The United States flag pole now stands in the center with the American flag waving above the others, which was the design voted for before construction of the courthouse and is acceptable under federal law.
In addition, Wimpee was required and agreed to donate $2,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides programs and services to severely injured military service members as they transition from active duty to civilian life.
The decision was resolved after retiring Commissioner Wimpee and his attorney met with Special Prosecutor David B. Lobingier, who was appointed in the 382nd and 439th District Courts of Rockwall County in connection with this case as Criminal District Attorney Pro Tem by John Ovard, Presiding Judge for the First Administrative Judicial Region.
Lobingier wrote in a letter to County Commissioners that he also instructed Wimpee not to violate the law for the next two years in any manner or the case will be reopened.
Commissioner Wimpee, who is currently recovering from pneumonia, emailed the following prepared statement dated Nov. 7 to TheRockwallNews.com last night:
“As an Elected Official of the State, under oath to uphold State Statutes, and as an eighth generation Texan, honoring the State Flag is my duty. Unfortunately, this became an emotional/political issue for some.”
“By the way, I’m not the first principled person to be adversely affected by politics; “that’s the way politics go.”
The following letter of apology from Commissioner Wimpee is dated Nov. 1:
To Whom It May Concern.
I take this opportunity to apologize to those County officials, military veterans and citizens of Rockwall County who were offended by my actions related to the trimming of one Rockwall County Courthouse flagpole earlier this year. My intention was to bring the New County Courthouse Flag Display into compliance with the State of Texas Flag Code.
I regret that my actions were offensive to some people.
Jerry M. Wimpee
Rockwall County Commissioner
Wimpee hired a company Jan. 28, 2012, to cut five feet off the U.S. flagpole to lower it to the same height as the Texas and Veterans flags, which fly outside the County Courthouse. The Texas flag pole was also moved to the middle and the U.S. flag to the left, flying at the same height. He then asked the County to reimburse him for the $760 cost.
At the time, Wimpee said he was just enforcing Texas law, which says the Texas flag should fly at the same height as the US flag.
Other County Commissioners, veterans and area citizens were outraged that Wimpee had taken it upon himself to make the changes without approval from anyone else.
By J.J. Smith