Society & Culture

Flag kerfuffle ruffles village

by Linda Buermeyer, republished from the Journal-Opinion

EAST CORINTH—A proposal to spruce up Main Street with flags did not fly well with all Corinthians.

In an effort to improve the village’s appearance, Jon Ruggles and Wade Pierson formed the East Corinth Beautification Corporation, a nonprofit.

The ECBC is “dedicated to make East Corinth an even happier and healthier place to live,” Ruggles wrote in an email. 

“The village has a serious blight in the core,” he added referring to a former general store in the heart of the village that has fallen into disrepair and is the target of a municipal health order.

Ruggles moved here from Idaho a couple of years ago. He preferred to communicate by email after his tongue was removed due to cancer.

“This isn’t my first time with beautification,” he wrote. “In Idaho I helped establish two major nonprofits; one that grew to planting over 2,000 flowers a year with over 275 hanging baskets.” 

The East Corinth beautification idea was presented to the selectboard twice, first on March 7 and then, due to discussion and input from the attendees, with modifications on May 2.  

The initial presentation proposed the flags for the utility poles which line Main Street at intervals. Flags would fly every day throughout the year. Small solar lights would illuminate the flags by night.

Green Mountain Power permits flags on its poles provided the flags are not controversial or political, according to Pierson and Ruggles.

Based on feedback, the pair submitted a modified plan proposing flags from Memorial Day through Veterans Day.

Lori Buik and Sarah Polli live in proximity to the old store. According to the March 7 meeting minutes, they supported the project and believe lighting will increase safety.

At that meeting, road foreman Joe Blodgett expressed that the flags would honor veterans and the display would not hinder plowing or other road work for the crew.

In a telephone conversation, village resident Anne McKinsey said she was opposed to the flag idea from the start and did not like the way it was first presented.

“I thought the whole thing was presented poorly … Mr. Ruggles went house to house … there was nothing on the survey showing the number of flags, how often they would be flown, whether it would have lights or not,” she said. “That was presented later.”

McKinsey said she has problems personally with the American flag and feels it has been co-opted by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

“I thought it would paint East Corinth Village as a right-wing village,” she said. “I got bad flak from the village. It was very hurtful and divisive.”

She continued, “An individual can’t just hang a flag from a pole. For safety reasons, it’s not allowed.”

McKinsey said she confirmed this through GMP Spokesperson Kristen Carlson.

Ruggles created a signed survey “so people would not think I fabricated the count—it was a warm 20 degrees when I knocked on doors and met the villagers for two Sundays.”

The survey of 26 households resulted in 24 in favor and only two against.

At the May meeting, the selectboard felt it could not endorse a project that did not include the consensus of the town.

It troubles proponents of the flags that objections were raised by those who do not live in the village.

Board chair Rick Cawley responded to the Journal Opinion’s question: what difference does it make to the whole town if it is East Corinth Village that puts up flags?

“East Corinth is not a municipality but is part of the town,” he said. “It is a historical hamlet.  Someone came up with an idea but never had townwide or village-wide input. It is an issue for each individual landowner. The process was not inclusive.”

The board voted unanimously that it would not oppose any landowner who wishes to display an American flag from a utility pole on that landowner’s property.

Ruggles said, “The purpose of this Beautification Committee is to beautify hanging flags on ugly power poles to soften the industrial look and they are the low-hanging fruit of beautification. It’s not a political statement.”

“I don’t like the term that was used twice now that we are ‘self-appointed’ as though we are doing something underhanded,” Ruggles wrote. “I am uplifted by the young man that mows our grass who said, ‘Flags will change the Village from someplace you just drive through.’”

Like McKinsey, Ruggles has also endured hurtful comments.

“Being a new family [in the area] and just trying to help, after all we have been through is painful. This could have been a fun and joyous time.”

Currently, two test flags with solar lights have been affixed to utility poles.

Editor’s note: After this news story was published, Anne McKinsey submitted a letter that reads in part:

“The article states that I believe our national flag has been co-opted by supporters of former Pres. Trump. This was incorrectly reported.

Some radical extremists have tried to corrupt the flag and proclaim it as theirs—a big difference. Even Jon Ruggles stated to me that “the only time this flag has become divisive is when Trump weaponized it.” I agree with Mr. Ruggles; some may not. Having dozens of 3-by-5 American flags, installed by the ECBC, a private organization, along our road on public service utility poles for six months of the year runs the risk of mischaracterizing us as an extremist-leaning community. This worries me.”


Categories: Society & Culture

30 replies »

  1. Going out on a limb here………….guessing McKinsey is not going to vote for Pres. Trump next time around. Too bad she doesn’t like our flag or what it truly represents.

  2. I’m still at a loss is how one person can be that ignorant but knowing that so many of them out there that there was two in a small town like east corinth is astounding to me.

    Fools, makers of their own demise.

    • It’s really just a matter of “personal preference” – like people who prefer mustard over ketchup, these people prefer the Hammer & Sickle over the Stars and Stripes, is all………

  3. 1.) Anne McKinsey has problems, personally, with the flag of her country. If so?


    2.) It appears, at least from the information contained within this article, that there are anti-American, anti-Federalists & potentially even traitors to the flag across Vermont & indeed the nation. (Iike him or not, Donald J. Trump was a duly elected President of the USA, and anyone & everyone holds the right to not merely fly our flag but fly our flag in honor of his Presidency).


    So many Americans being led by the nose like cattle being led to their slaughter.

    • You’re absolutely correct Kathleen. Trump did not weaponize the flag. He loves America and flew it proudly to stand up for our wonderful America as we ALL should. Mr. Ruggles had a magnificent idea to beautify his town. Everyone should have been happy because the flag is the symbol of the USA (not Trump). Anne McKinsey is a traitor and should be removed from America, as should all traitors. Ms. McKinsey, you do NOT belong in our nation! Why are you not thankful for a country which has given you so many wonderful freedoms that you are now misusing. Mr. Ruggles, we’re happy to have you here in our state. Thank you for trying to help.

      • Seriously, you want people “removed from America” (whatever that means) for a simple disagreement over whether flags should be displayed in Newport? Isn’t that the something that should never happen in a democracy? You believe in “wonderful freedoms” for people who think exactly like you do – and no one else.

    • “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” – US Supreme Court – on flag burning.

      Anne McKinsey only objected to the display of the flag in a specific context.

      Take a deep breath.

      • Maybe the SC has it wrong on their previous interpretation of flag burning, like on abortion? They are only people subject to mistakes. But the law of the land is…until it isn’t.

      • Yet, when it came to the BLM flag flown on public property, anyone who objected was told to sit down and shut up. Today, BLM is filing bankruptcy and missing $8.5 million dollars. Gee, I wonder where all that money went?

      • The US Government can NEVER stand in the way of a citizen raising a US flag. Ever. I’m breathing deeply & slowly – YOU take a deep breath and YOU leave this nation f you don’t intend to abide by the law. No One Can Impede The Raising Of A US Flag. She should be SUED. A “threat”? Nope. A REALITY & hopefully it comes to fruition.

        MAGA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Notice how “terrified” I am.

        And your FBI can pound sand.

      • That means as well —– DISPLAYING the flag, Marky.


  4. 24-2 is as close to consensus as one could hope for. Maybe the selectboard was wary of taking on any responsibility for them and looking for an excuse. Sad.

  5. My comment to her is just this if your country’s flag is offensive to you. Pack your bags and move to California you would fit right in. I’m sure you would have no problem in selling your house.

  6. Another stunted development case that came to VT and never left the 60s.

    Time to move on and allow her to be at peace someplace else. I am sure there will be thousands willing to help her on her way and protect her rights.

  7. This lady needs to wake up! It would paint the picture of a town that is proud to be an American town. Nothing more and nothing less! Maybe she needs to talk with a professional to deal with her insecurities and really think about getting out of town business.

  8. Go back to the Swamp that you came from period!
    This flag is First and foremost period

  9. American Flag. Cancelled! But schools can fly rainbow and BLM flags. Not extremist at all!

  10. Coming fairly recently from Idaho, I hope we can forgive Mr. Ruggles for not being aware that in present-day Vermont, the stars and stripes are considered a trigger and a symbol of intolerance and oppression. He must surely now be aware that this whole controversy could be eliminated by instead choosing an assortment of flags including rainbow, transgender, BLM etc, also anything with the raised, clenched fist of anger is always a hit.

  11. Anne McKinsey feels the American Flag is co-opted by the 45th President of the United States and his supporters? I feel the same way about a certain group co-opting the rainbow. More so after segregating a specific group into a triangle seperate of the other lines. Subtle, yet signals discrimination on their own symbol. I also cringe everytime I see a Ukranian flag waving in place of Old Glory – particularly when it was paraded through the well of the United States House of Representatives. I also take issue with certain symbols the FBI reports as signals for child predators displayed in business names, non-profit names, and product logos. I take issue with a certain flag that is very similar to a flag used by a certain group in Germany circa 1934. When people such as Anne speak out against our national flag, they expose themselves as a casualty of wartime propaganda and rhetoric. They are cannon fodder for a larger, more sinister agenda led by a small, extremely wealthy band of nihilists. 5th generation warfare indeed.

  12. It’s been said so many times, “you can’t fix stupid”. Mckinsey is free to leave. She won’t be missed.

  13. We really should buy an awful lot of little tiny American flags and go plant them everywhere on public property next to her house.

  14. Trump was the greatest president America ever had, he will return and finish the job and the world will be a better place for it.

  15. I’m offended by any American offended by the flying of our country’s flag. How many have died for the right to fly our flag? Afraid you’d be viewed as right wing?!!! I brand that as socialist/communist extremism. I personally would be filled with pride when I drove through the community and saw that. My Dad fought in the South Pacific and I fly an American flag proudly.