Supervisors agree to help fund Healing Fields flag project
PRESCOTT - The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors agreed Monday to throw $1,000 behind a 9/11 memorial flag project in Prescott Valley but tabled a proposal to support a historic preservation conference to be held in Prescott.
Councilwoman Mary Mallory of Prescott Valley gave an impassioned pitch asking for the county's financial help to supply flags for its Healing Field project.
Healing Field is the name for a display of row upon row of U.S. flags on five-foot poles - often, there are 3,000 flags to represent the number of victims killed the attacks on September 11, 2001 - which first began in Sandy, Utah, in 2003, but has since been replicated in cities around the country.
Mallory said she'd seen the event held in Tempe last year, and called it "a very moving experience."
She said Prescott Valley would display the flags from Sept. 8 to Sept. 15 in the open area near the town hall at 7501 E. Civic Center Circle.
"This touches my heart," Mallory said, tearing up. "My hope and dream and vision is to bring a (Healing) Field to the northern part of this great county."
One non-profit organization, the Colonial Flag Foundation, orchestrates the events and supplies the flags.
Each flag and pole costs $20 and they will be stored for future years, Mallory said.
Her goal is 3,000 flags and there have been donations for 300, she added.
Supervisor Chip Davis, District 3, said, "We ordinarily don't participate - I mean, all of our cities and towns have some kind of event," but this one might be different.
"I'm torn. I agree with Supervisor Davis that this is extraordinary," said Supervisor Carol Springer, District 1, but that "the reality is it's taxpayer money and we're giving it away."
"I can't help but think that every visitor or tourist who happens along our way in early September and sees that type of patriotism would just swell with pride," said Davis.
"What if every town in the county decided they wanted to duplicate it?" asked Springer.
"I disagree (that it sets a precedent)," said Chairman Tom Thurman, District 2. "I think everything stands on its own merits."
He moved to give the project $1,000; the vote was 2-1, with Springer dissenting.
The board also heard from historian Elisabeth Ruffner, standing in for Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall, who asked the county to partner with Prescott to host the 10th annual Arizona Historic Preservation Conference in June.
Ruffner explained that the 300 attendees would come from as far away as England and around the country.
The funds - $5,000 - would come from the county's Arizona Centennial Committee.
"I'll say the same thing I said to the previous agenda item," said Springer. "There are lots of events, lots of things, that all of us individually would like to do... but I really do have a problem giving away money.
"This is not a public event," she added.
"Again, I think these are unusual requests, and I think Arizona's centennial year is the exception to the rule for me," said Davis, saying he'd support giving $1,250.
Thurman asked Ruffner if the conference was a public event. She said there were a couple of events that people could attend, "but generally, the sessions are not open to the public."
"I rescind my support," replied Davis.
Thurman said the board would take the request under advisement.