Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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“Flag man” in hospital

Phil Stack, the 84-year-old World War II veteran who must take down his flagpole in the Salem Fields subdivision or face fines, is in the hospital. His family friend informed me today that he had some heart trouble Monday and had to be taken to Mary Washington Hospital. She said he didn’t have a heart attack, but did have some blockage. She said Mr. Stack should return home today. Let’s hope he’s OK!

Secondly, I wanted to share an e-mail I got from another resident of the same subdivision, critical of my article that ran Wednesday about Mr. Stack:

Reference your front page article of 3 Oct about the WWII vet who wants to fly Old Glory.  It is very commendable and right that Mr. Stack, a patriotic  American and WWII combat veteran should be able to display the Flag  at his home.  However, when Mr. Stack purchased a home In Salem Fields he  knowingly became bound by the covenants and guideline of the Home Owners Association which specifies that the flag may be flown only from a pole affixed to the side of his house or garage.
     Your article seems to imply that our HOA is mean spirited, rigid and unpatriotic  for not allowing Mr. Stack to construct a free standing flag pole to display the flag. This is just not the case.
     The 88-year old president of our HOA is a veteran  of WW II and the Korean War; I am also a WWII  and Vietnam veteran.   Together with any other veterans and also many of  my friends and neighbors who never served in the military we display  the American flag from our homes in the manner prescribed by the HOA guideline. And Mr Stack should continue to fly the American flag but in accordance with the HOA guidelines .
Walter A. Mestre
Major, USAF (Retired)

I wrote back Mr. Mestre today thanking him for reading and for opining on the subject.

The article was clear in that Mr. Stack can still fly his flag. He just can’t use a flagpole. I thought Mr. Mestre provided an interesting point of view on this story.

But I also asked him that if the HOA bans flagpoles, then why does the HOA community center have a flagpole in the front, possibly double the size of Mr. Stack’s flagpole? I guess the HOA has different rules for HOA-owned property.

I live in an HOA. In fact, I was an HOA president for one year. It was a tough job. I had to police the trash pick up, parking and loitering. We have a company pick up our trash. I got a call one time from a resident who said another resident was picking up trash from her mother’s house and bringing it to her house for pick up at the curb. Every week, this family would have a mountain of trash bags and boxes on the side of the curb. I investigated. I waited outside when I saw the truck leave, and what a shock it was when 15 minutes later it returned with a  cab-full of garbage bags. I grabbed one of my white “notice” sheets and wrote a violation. The next morning, 7 a.m. to be precise, she called me and screamed over the phone at me. And I mean screamed. Her husband was in the background telling her other things to scream at me.

At year’s end I didn’t show up to the final HOA meeting and I was automatically dismissed as president. They held the meetings during “banker’s hours” and I worked late so I couldn’t go anyway.

But guess who got HOA president after that? Yep. The “Screaming lady.”

Ever since then, I get a notice a week for anything ranging from “take your trash can out back,” “put your mower away,” “cut your weeds,” “wash your car,” “clean your siding,” “stop looking at me when you drive by,” to “your flower colors are too purple.”

Sorry for some of the sarcasm, but my point is that being an HOA president is a tough job. I’ll never do it again. And by the way: My house is on the market. Go buy it! $149,000, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, Winchester, Va. What a deal!!!!!!