Estes Point flag meeting draws large crowd

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“Save Old Glory” A large crowd of concerned citizen were in attendance at a meeting held on Oct. 6 to discuss the U. S. flag that is currently flown at Turkey River Mounds State Preserve, commonly known as Estes Point. Above center, Elaine Biermann, "Save Old Glory" spokesperson, visited with IA-DNR and legal representatives prior to the start of the meeting. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

A meeting to discuss the United States flag that is currently flown at Turkey River Mounds State Preserve, commonly known as Estes Point, located 4.5 miles southeast of Guttenberg, was held on Wednesday, Oct. 6, in the north gazebo in Ingleside Park 

In attendance were Rachel Zander, attorney for Iowa Department of Natural Resources, (IA-DNR); Detra Dettmann, District Supervisor at IA-DNR, and Justin Vorwald, an attorney representing Harley and Mary Anderegg and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA) 39-3. Also attending were a large crowd of local veterans, concerned citizens and media representatives. 

The meeting was prompted by a landowners dispute and an IA-DNR request to remove the United States flag there – improperly flown according to Public Law 94-344, known as the Federal Flag Code, which contains rules for handling and displaying the U.S. flag. Harley Anderegg believed the land was his based on tax records; the DNR said documentation indicates the land is state owned. The DNR's request to remove the flag was made after a visitor questioned the flag's presence in a state archeological and biological preserve. 

A local AMVETS  group has maintained the flag pole and replaced the flag when needed for several decades. Representatives from the panel invited attendees to ask questions and voice concerns. More than 100 were in attendance at the emotionally charged meeting. All those who spoke were in favor of keeping the flag in its current location.   

"We are here to make sure 'Old Glory' continues to fly at Estes Point," said Elaine Biermann, spokeswoman for the group. "My husband, Kurt, and the late Luke Smith put up that flag pole back in the 70's. 'Old Glory' has been flying there ever since." 

During lengthy discussion, the DNR offered suggestions to comply with flag regulations, but those attending felt the suggestions were not feasible. 

At the conclusion of the meeting, DNR representatives said they would pass on reasonable requests for consideration by IA-DNR upper management. Attorney Justin Vorwald encouraged those interested in retaining the flag to contact local legislators.

Estes Point history

Turkey River Mounds State Preserve is a 62-acre area that contains a large complex of ancient Indian mounds on a breathtaking narrow ridge overlooking the confluence of the Turkey and Mississippi Rivers. The first exploratory survey of the mounds was conducted in 1885. The site was revisited by famous Iowa archaeologist Ellison Orr in the early 1930s. The property was purchased by Dubuque citizens in 1934 and given to the Iowa Conservation Commission in 1940. Further archaeological surveys were conducted in 1964 and 1973. The area was dedicated as an archaeological, geological, and biological state preserve in 1968. In 1990 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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