PLAQUEMINE, La. (WAFB) - Iberville Parish taxpayers are shelling out more than $160,000 for a gigantic new American flag now waving alongside Highway 1.
The flag, measuring 80′ x 40′, is as long as two school buses and weighs 270 lbs.
The final price of $163,126 includes installation, lighting, a pole, and the flag itself, the parish’s chief administrative officer confirmed Monday, Aug. 12. The flag was installed along Highway 1 at the Iberville/Ochsner Medical Complex on land owned by the parish.
WAFB received an anonymous email asking that our news team look into the price of the flag project and how it was paid for. Reached by phone Monday, Ourso says the parish council voted on and approved the project. He declined to answer any more questions and would not agree to be interviewed in person by WAFB.
A flyer for last week’s flag raising event said the flag was “a project of Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso, Jr. and the parish council.”
“More than 40 Louisiana National Guard troops will march the 80 feet long flag to the flag pole and raise it,” said a news release about the flag project. “It will be hung on a 150 feet flag pole and will be lighted at night.”
A quote from Ourso was included in last week’s news release.
“This flag will fly high above Iberville as a source of pride for our residents,” Ourso said in the release. “Hopefully, when they see it, they will remember to be grateful that they live in this great country. The U.S. flag represents our freedom and the sacrifices of many people who have given so much to make our country and our lives better.”
Parish Council Chairman Matt Jewell, reached by phone Monday, said the flag project was unanimously approved by the council and had his full support.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Jewell said. “We are a very patriotic parish and this is a great way to honor our veterans.”
Not everyone agrees with the chairman. Raheem Pierce, a parish council candidate, says the money would have been better spent elsewhere.
"The crazy part is it was put on the same highway where all these people getting killed and hit because it's too dark,” Pierce said. “We need lights on this street, on this same little street. We need stuff for the kids to do in the summer, we need stuff for after school, but I guess we need to get our priorities straight."
Councilman Thomas Dominique, however, says the money was well spent.
“The smaller flag would’ve done the same thing, but we as a council approved the large flag. We love the large flag. We love our veterans here,” Dominique said. “We’ve got veterans wall, we have a veterans helicopter fixing to come pretty soon. We love our veterans here and we wanted it to be known.”
He dismissed those who disagree with the project.
"Someone calls about the flags, who complains about a flag, they have problems,” he said.