Old Glory flies high in Southern Utah sky after flagpole controversy

ST. GEORGE — A colossal American flag is flying again in St. George from the top of Southern Utah’s tallest flagpole.

National Guardsmen raise an American flag up a 150-foot flagpole at Nielson RV, St. George, Utah, June 8, 2017 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

A crowd gathered at Nielson RV Thursday to watch as the supersized symbol of freedom was raised by members of the United States Armed Forces during a flag ceremony at the RV dealership located at 341 E. Sunland Drive.

St. George City Mayor Jon Pike said he is grateful for Nielson RV Owner Scott Nielson’s investment in the “iconic” flag and extra-tall flagpole.

“It’s been great to work with him and resolve the issue of having a permit to have this tall, tall, tallest flagpole in St. George and Washington County,” Pike said.

Upon recommendation from the Planning Commission last month, the St. George City Council approved the RV dealership’s 150-foot flagpole that had sparked some controversy.

The issue arose when Nielson RV was issued a code-enforcement violation on April 18 from the city of St. George stating that a flagpole displaying a 40-by-80-foot American flag in the company’s parking lot violated the city height requirement.

Nielson had believed the pole was in compliance before he had it installed and felt he was paying a price for patriotism after being told he would have to pay an additional $300 permitting fee in order for the city to consider granting a variance allowing for the pole’s height.

L-R: World War II Veteran Bill Sampson, Nielson RV owner Scott Nielson and St. George City Mayor Jon Pike arrive at Thursday’s flag ceremony via helicopter, St. George, Utah, June 8, 2017 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

Mayor Pike promptly responded to the heated controversy and was at the forefront of getting the issue resolved and seeing to it that Nielson’s $300 fee was waived so the flag could go back up once its windstorm damage was repaired.

“In this case, we have a 150-foot flagpole which is going to be a real beacon-like feature for the community and a very big flag that will go on it,” Pike said, “and so that’s simply what we wanted to do was to make sure that we dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s and that everything was good.”

The mayor, Nielson and Nielson’s 91-year-old grandfather, World War II veteran Bill Sampson, were flown to Thursday’s event in a black helicopter that landed in the dealership’s parking lot.

The lot was filled with approximately 300 community members, including veterans, St. George City Council members, St. George firefighters, St. George Police officers and National Guard troops, among others.

A sign displayed at the Nielson RV dealership in St. George, Utah, June 8, 2017 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

After Sampson’s great-grandson, William Sampson Nielson, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, Sampson’s great-granddaughter, Grace Nielson, sang the national anthem while members of the National Guard raised the flag.

Sampson told the crowd of his recent Honor Flight experience in which he had the opportunity to fly to Washington, D.C. with 50 other World War II veterans.

“We went to the fort there, and they were telling us about what had happened when the British figured that they were going to take the fort,” Sampson said. “It was smoky that morning. They couldn’t see the fort. … The smoke cleared. Then they could see the American flag flying, and they knew that the British hadn’t taken the fort.”

Scott Nielson expressed his love for the nation and for those who have served it, noting that he had the flagpole installed for his grandfather and all the other veterans.

National Guardsman salutes the American flag, St. George, Utah, June 8, 2017 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

“We are truly, sincerely proud to support our troops,” Scott Nielson said. “We love our veterans. We love those that have served, that are in active duty and those that have fallen for such a great cause. I love you guys. I thank you for the support that you have given us. And again, a shout out to the mayor for such an awesome jump in to save this flag.”

Currently, there are approximately 10,000 veterans in the Washington County area, Pike said, noting how much the veterans will appreciate having a landmark of sorts that creates such a strong feeling of patriotism.

“I think it will be great to have the flag – it’s so large – right along I-15,” Pike said. “I think that will be one of the first things people see as they come, especially from the south, but even from the north, and I think that’s great, you know. It lets people know, again, this is the kind of community we have.”

American flag flies from a 150-foot flagpole at Nielson RV, St. George, Utah, June 8, 2017 | Photo by Michael Durrant, St. George News

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • desertgirl June 9, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Refreshing that most of Utah is still a part of the United States where patriotism is a positive; a value. After decades in liberal big cities, I am happy to be here. Please let’s not allow the progressive, anti-American, bigoted, snowflakes ruin this community.

    • 42214 June 9, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • Icomments2 June 9, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      I couldn’t agree with you more!!! If we aren’t careful they will have that flag down in a heartbeat!!! I love the fact the city is allowing Old Glory to fly and too fly high above us and watch over us at all times… Especially in our time when we need everyone to support OUR president!!!

      • Bender June 10, 2017 at 11:55 am

        So now, in addition to your guns, the liberals are after your giant flags?

        • comments June 10, 2017 at 1:03 pm

          LOL, must be. Add that right along with the “obamacare death panels” 😉

    • gandalf June 10, 2017 at 5:30 pm

      Explain how this is a problem of the “anti-American, bigoted, snowflake” citizens of this country. The flag was in was in violation of the law, not because someone got offended or hated america. There are probably many reasons why this law is in effect. These laws were made by people you voted for (R), so you can’t reasonably blame the political left for this.

  • Bender June 9, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Too bad Nielson is unwilling to step up his game and go a full 200 feet high with a 50×100 foot flag. Sad.

  • voice of reason June 9, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    It seems like someone might be using the size of their Flag to compensate for the size of something else. I wonder how much they donated to Mayor Pike’s re-election campaign to make the matter go away.

    • 42214 June 10, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Everyone thinks the flag is a positive thing but you have to play Sigmund Frued and get snarky. What a clown.

      • comments June 10, 2017 at 11:32 pm

        lol 42 i think u hit the nail on the head with the freud analogy. v of r indeed belongs on the clown list 😉

  • Dolly June 9, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Smiled as I saw this beautiful flag flying today when I drove on Convention Center Drive. Thank you Nielson RV for bringing it back, and thanks to the Mayor for for his assistance. It’s a wonderful sight flying over Saint George!

  • justsaying June 10, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Quite a show put on for a gimmick to draw attention to his packed RV lot. Let’s not forget he is a “salesman”. Anybody ever see the great flick Used Cars with Kurt Russell back in the 80’s?

    • Bender June 10, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Trivia: Walt Disney’s dying words: “Kurt Russell”

    • comments June 10, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      I think he made it into a full-on circus just for the free media attention and free advertising that came about from it. Going after this line of thinking, perhaps: “Imma gonna buy my RV from that Nielson fellow. That boy is a true patriot, fightin’ them librul socialists that wanna take away all our ‘murican flags”.

      Now he can fly his big ol’ huge flag to his hearts content, and I got no problem with it. I even wish he’d have gone bigger like the other person up there suggested 😉

  • voice of reason June 10, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    “Advertising and marketing disguised as patriotism is shallow, despicable and makes a mockery of true patriotism”
    Abe Lincoln

    • Bender June 11, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      I’ll take “Internet Quotes Fabricated from Whole Cloth” for $200 Alex.

      • 42214 June 11, 2017 at 5:23 pm

        Voice of Treason strikes again. Abe was only referring car dealerships, not RV dealerships.

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