By Laura Colvin
Kuna Melba News editor
High in the sky, atop what some estimate is an 80-foot flagpole, the stars and stripes are once again waving in the wind above Kuna.
The “big flag,” as it’s known to many around town, returned to 4th and Main St. on Oct. 31, after an absence of several months or more.
The weather, after all, takes a toll on the 20-foot-by-38-foot American flag, and replacement is costly.
Since 2009, the flag has been watched over, maintained, and replaced – and replaced again, and again, by Perry and Shirley Leffler, who purchased and now operate the nearby Cowgirls Kuna in the Sandstone Commercial Complex.
When the couple purchased Cowgirls, Shirley Leffler said, they also took over maintenance of the complex, and continued upkeep on the property even after the deal with the previous owners went bad.
“We continued to maintain the property at our own expense, and the flag was part of it,” Leffler said, noting the flag must be removed, dry cleaned, trimmed and re-hemmed every couple of months, sometimes more frequently, depending on the weather, or it will begin to look tattered, worn, and disrespected.
And for the Lefflers, that’s not an option.
After a little searching, Perry Leffler ran into a bit of luck: Clothesline Cleaners in Meridian agreed to wash the flag for free; mending costs about $40 each time.
Still, the cleaning and mending only goes so far, and in the last three years, the Lefflers say they’ve purchased seven new flags, with money from their own pockets—or their retirement account—at a cost of about $600 each.
It’s tough, they say, to keep shelling out, but easy to explain the motive.
“It’s a focal point of our community,” said Perry Leffler, noting it’s also important to him to follow proper protocol for raising, lowering and displaying the flag. “It represents all of us, and what we as Americans stand for. A lot of people have died for that flag, and the freedom that comes with it, and that means a lot to me. It bothers me when I can’t afford to replace it.”
Then, a break. Recently, the Lefflers received an envelope containing $562, collected by Kuna resident Roger Weeks, who went soliciting for flag-replacement donations from individuals and businesses around the community and came only a few dollars short of full replacement.
The Lefflers picked up the rest, and Kuna got its big flag back.
The couple is hoping the support will continue. While they asked the city for some help, they were told the cash-strapped municipality may not be able to contribute much toward purchasing new flags at this point, although city workers may be taking over the day-to-day lowering and raising of the flag, which will help.
They’re willing to go halfs, but the Lefflers are also hoping additional donations will come in from members of the surrounding community who want to help ensure the stars and stripes continue to wave in the wind over Kuna.
The flag flying over Kuna currently was purchased with what Shirley Leffler calls “greatly appreciated” contributions from Merlin Hawkes, Roger Weeks, El Gallo Giro , Longhorn Bar, Luann of Kuna, Larry of Kuna, Fred Proctor, American Legion, Richard Cardoza, Super C – Natu Patel, Sunstar, Artic Circle, Pazzel’s , Doggie Works, Jim & Sherri Russel, and E.S.P.
For more information, or to make a donation toward the cost of future flags, contact Shirley Leffler at email@example.com or 340-0020.