Memorial Zylstra flagpole receives needed face lift

A flag now flies in front of the county’s historic court house building on a pole that has been broken for more than 10 years.

Island County Facilities Director Larry Van Horn stands before a memorial flag pole he had reconditioned at the county’s Coupeville campus.

A flag now flies in front of the county’s historic court house building on a pole that has been broken for more than 10 years.

Island County’s new Facilities Director Larry Van Horn noticed the flag-less pole a few days before the Fourth of July.

“I’m a pretty patriotic guy,” Van Horn said.

He said he went on a “walkabout” to check out the flagpoles on Island County’s government campus in Coupeville and noticed the broken flagpole.

He said the pulley at the top of the pole had rusted and seized.

In addition, Van Horn discovered a plaque at the base of the flagpole that had been overgrown with bushes.

“It was dedicated to an individual who was a true fixture in the community for a lot of years,” Van Horn said.

The flagpole had been dedicated to James Zylstra, who worked as the county’s prosecuting attorney, served two terms as Coupeville mayor and was elected as Island County clerk. He also served as state representative from 1919-1922.

The plaque reads: “In memory of James Zylstra 1877-1954, Coupeville Lions Club.”

Van Horn said that even though it was a small project, it was worth the time to get it cleaned up so that the memorial flagpole could be enjoyed by the community.

County staff John Matteson and Dennis Bodley repaired and repainted the 65-foot flagpole.

“It’s in good shape now,” Van Horn said.

Van Horn added the pole was abandoned around the time the new courthouse was built in 1998 and the old courthouse building converted into administrative offices.

Van Horn hit the ground running as facilities director in May, after the previous director was out for nearly two years with an injury.

“We’re getting everyone pulled together,” Van Horn said. “There’s a lot of valuable knowledge in the department and we will continue to make efforts to improve conditions for the community.”

Carla Waite, who has worked as the facilities office manager for nearly 25 years, said it’s nice to have a new director that pays attention to details like the flagpole.

“I’m very happy to have him here,” Waite said.

Van Horn said he hopes to continue to tackle projects that had been “orphaned off or didn’t have clear direction.”

“Seeing the flag flying in front of the old courthouse is meaningful,” said Commissioner Jill Johnson. “It demonstrates that we have pride in our County Campus and that translates to pride in our community. I respect our facilities team for noticing that the flagpole was a memorial dedication and giving that tribute the respect it deserved by restoring it to the point where the flag can fly again. It’s a little thing, but little things matter.”


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