Flag Fight Already Costing Blount Residents $50,000

February 14, 2007

Maryville, Blount County (WVLT) – The battle over the Confederate Flag in Blount
County has only just begun, but already the legal bills that ultimately, you the
taxpayer will pay, are adding up.

Blount County Bureau Chief Stephen McLamb has obtained a copy of the bill that
continues to add up.

The original lawsuit over the flag, filed against the Blount County School
District hasn’t even been litigated, but the legal wrangling over a temporary
injunction’s already made to the US District Court of Appeals.

And already, the bill we’ll pay is over $50,000.

After much debate, students wanting to wear the Confederate Flag on clothing
at William Blount High school filed suit against the school for their ban of

Eleven months have passed and the legal fees have now exceeded $53,000 and
are expected to go higher as they plan for a June 5th trial date.

In talking to patrons at a local diner they had no idea how much money the
county was spending and were shocked.

"It looks to me like we’re just throwing money down the hole," says
Jim Susong.

"Ah, it’s too much money wasted over nothing. I mean, really you know,
you can’t change history folks," says Tom Bernard.

"I think that, you know, I hate to hear money being wasted on legal fees
on something like that," says Julie Bridenbaugh.

But the issue may well go on as both sides stick to their guns.

In a sworn deposition last month, Superintendent Alvin Hord was asked "If
you become aware the Confederate Flag was no longer causing disruption at William
Blount High School would you still have Mr. Lafon enforce the ban against the
Confederate Flag?"

Hord says "Yes."

Some feel things other than the flag are what should really be banned.

"I think the school board ought to just drop it. I think there’s more
important things to ban in the school like alcohol and drug paraphernalia stuff
on shirts versus the rebel flag," says Bridenbaugh.

WVLT caught up with three members on the school board, including the board’s
Chairman Mike Treadway. All three were unaware of just how much money in legal
fees had been spent thus far.

Treadway declined comment for now. Both William Miller and Charles Finley say
they believe the money would be better spent on education and textbooks.

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