When that flag was going up, I had goose bumps all over my body,” he said. “It was just because I spent so much time on this, so much frustration.
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It started out as a conversation in a barn. It ended with the American flag proudly flying above the Warrick County courthouse for the first time in two years.
Allan Scott, owner of Scott’s Crane Service, was setting the pool tables in 3rd Street Saloon when he was approached about using his crane to replace the flag. His crane isn’t tall enough, but it sparked an idea.
“We were in Allan’s barn one night and he said, ‘We need to put a flag back up on the courthouse. It’s been down for several years. I remember it being up when I was growing up. Everyone said that it can’t be done. We need to get it put up.’ I said, ‘How?’ He said, ‘I don’t know,’ Allan’s lifelong friend, Dwayne Schmitt, said.
So, Dwayne started making phone calls. He was able to get the VFW Post 3418 & Women’s Auxiliary to donate the flag. Berry’s Shoe Shop reinforced the stitching. Fulcrum Lifting fabricated and donated the cable and other hardware they’d need.
Instead of a crane, though, Allan used a drone. The first flight on his brand new drone - that he bought specifically for this project - was a little homework. Dwayne said they took the information they got from that flight to fabricate any and everything they could possibly need to get the job done.
“The drone did a lot of work before we ever went up to start,” he said. “We made several different attachments to take with us for different scenarios. We had engineered a rat trap, if we had to, to walk up to the head of the flag pole to grab the rope and pull it out if we had to, pull it down to us. We made a hook to be able to grab the rope and be able to snag it on a knot and pull it through. We made a horseshoe, took an aluminum horseshoe and put rivets in it to where we could put fishing line on it to where we could make like a lasso to put over the end of a rope and pull the string to where we could get a piece of fishing line on it if we had to to pull the rope down. We had a lot of ingenuity and preparation time before we ever went up.”
When the day came, Allan strapped on 150 pounds of equipment and headed up to the cupola. Dwayne was his eyes and ears on the ground, guiding Allan through the parts he couldn’t see - like everything above him. To top it off, it was super windy.
“He had a hard time hanging on to the flag to clip it on to the cable,” Dwayne said. “And that was before he ever raised it.”
That made Dwayne’s job a little more important.
“When he comes up with some of his ideas, I’m right in the middle of them,” he joked. “Any time he says, ‘We’re going to do this,’ I’m right there with him. There was a lot of trust in him being up there and me on the ground.”
This project had been on the mind of County Commissioner Dan Saylor for years.
“We are absolutely ecstatic about the fix,” he said. “We looked at so many different options of getting that fixed. It wasn’t easy due to the height and due to the setback. We would have to get a crane. We looked at cranes from as far away as St. Louis and Louisville and Nashville, they were about the only place we could get cranes. We even looked at a helicopter. A helicopter was going to cost in the neighborhood of $50,000. People don’t realize what a big deal this was.”
Dwayne said that the cable was built to last. Even the flag should last a significant amount of time with the reinforcements. Which is good, since that 155-foot ascent to the top of the courthouse proves to be problematic.
“We’re planning on that cable being up there for at least 80 years,” he said. “We went to Fulcrum Lifting and told them what we wanted to do. That is a galvanized coated cable that we put in. So, it’s built for longevity.”
Dan said that the commissioners had received many phone calls when the old flag was dilapidated. When it was finally removed, the phone calls slowed down. When they did speak to people about the logistics of fixing the flag pole, they understood. Some even offered to start a fundraiser. But, cranes that were tall enough are located in bigger cities and the whole thing is pretty cost-prohibitive.
“We’ve had firemen look up there, we’ve had rock climbers to say we’ll climb up it,” Dan said. “When they get up there, they go, ‘We can’t do it.’ We’ve had Custom Signs with their big cranes come look at it. We’ve probably had 10 people come look at this project. We get this call from Allan Scott who says he has an idea. He said he thinks he can fix it with a drone... He didn’t even have a drone. He went out and bought a $2,000 drone. This is what’s really incredible. That’s why it’s a great story.”
Even still, Dan said he was a bit skeptical that he could actually get it done.
“When that flag was going up, I had goose bumps all over my body,” he said. “It was just because I spent so much time on this, so much frustration.”
Dwayne said that’s just the kind of guy Allan is.
“It was something that needed to be done,” he said. “Allan is one of those guys that when you tell him, ‘You can’t,’ he will. When they said that nobody can do it unless we spend several thousand dollars on a crane, it was one of those things. He had to do it.”
Allan, a man of few words, summed it all up with just six.
“It just needed to be done,” he said.