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Riled residents show true colors

Displays of patriotism were breaking out all over, and apparently a few association bigwigs didn't like it. Too bad.

By BRADY DENNIS, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 8, 2002

Displays of patriotism were breaking out all over, and apparently a few association bigwigs didn't like it. Too bad.

LAND O'LAKES -- Joan and Louis Hofmann have a 25-foot-tall reminder of their stubborn patriotism.

The Hofmanns, who moved from New Jersey to Land O'Lakes last August, erected a 15-foot-tall flagpole at the corner of their driveway in the Grand Oaks subdivision shortly after the terrorist attacks.

Soon came a letter from Sentry Management Inc., which managed the homeowners association, telling the Hofmanns they would have to move the pole.

"I think it's unpatriotic and uncalled for," Joan Hofmann said at the time. "We refuse to take it down."

The Hofmanns got calls from state Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite and County Commissioner Pat Mulieri. Neighbors brought Joan Hofmann flowers -- "They were very sorry this happened to us," she said.

Then came a letter the Hofmanns had hoped for. It was from Lennar Corp., who had since taken over the neighborhood association, and it apologized to the Hofmanns for the earlier request to take down the flagpole.

The company also gave the Hofmanns a new, 25-foot-tall pole and an American flag to go with it.

"We were very happy," Joan Hofmann said. "My husband goes out every day to put it (the flag) up and take it down. I'm going to fly it half staff on Sept. 11."

To the west, in New Port Richey, Don Taggart also found a happy ending to his flag troubles.

He stapled a 5-by-9-foot American flag onto his roof in the Arborwood at Summertree subdivision on Sept. 12, a day after the attacks. He already had tacked one measuring 4-by-7 feet onto the front of his home.

He promptly received a letter from the community president, asking him to take the flags off his home and instead put them on flagpoles in the yard.

Taggart was irate. He wrote letters to newspapers. He called Bay News 9. And he, too, refused to move the flags.

"The more they pushed it, the more it p----- me off," Taggart said.

Taggart said the issue eventually died down, and he heard little else about it. Then he saw the community president one day at the recreation center.

"He said, 'When do you plan on taking the flag down?' " Taggart recalled. "I said, 'When it fades.' He said, 'Fair enough.' "

Taggart kept his word, and when the flag wore out roughly six weeks later, he took it down and asked the community board for permission to put a 10-foot-tall flagpole in his yard. They agreed.

The flagpole is still out front, still adorned with an American flag.

"It had a good ending," Taggart said. "There are still people here that don't talk to us . . . If you're that small-minded, go jump in the lake."

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