Poulsbo Armory flag left waving in the wind

POULSBO — Despite an order to lower flags to half-mast in honor of a dead soldier, the faded flags flying above the shuttered North Kitsap Memorial Armory stood at full mast Thursday.

“I don’t think anybody is there,” said Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade of the state-owned building.

Standing on Jenson Way NE the U.S. and state flags flying above city hall and the post office stood at half mast, the armory flags could be seen at full mast.

The half-mast flags were a gesture in honor of U.S. Army First Sgt. Jose S. Crisostomo of Spanaway, who died Aug. 18 in Kabul, Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, the day Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office issued the Crisostomo directive, another directive arrived at state agencies explaining an order from President Obama to lower flags to half mast for Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who died Tuesday.

Although the directive was for federal agencies, state and local bodies can observe Obama’s directive as well.

“There is no law I can see that says they can’t,” said Brent Heinemann, director of international relations in Gregoire’s office.

The National Guard vacated the armory Aug. 22, with most of its operations and telecommunications equipment moved out long before then. It still owns the building until all equipment is removed, said guard spokesman Capt. Steven Hobbs.

The shuttering of the building was part of a cost-cutting measure by the state.

On Thursday, American Legion Service Officer Earl Jones was notified of the flag, apparently left behind.

“It’s an odd oversight,” Jones said. “I don’t consider it so much a big issue, but it’s an issue.”

Jones lowered the flags, both sun-bleached, and carefully placed them in his vehicle.

“I think I’ll take them down, this building is closed,” Jones said.

Hobbs said it was unclear who is responsible for removing the flag, the guard or the American Legion, which had offered veteran services from the building.

“It’s the embodiment of America, what we stand for,” Hobbs said of the flag.

The building is going up for sale, valued at about $500,000, Hobbs said.

The city and the Port of Poulsbo have expressed interest in retaining the building for community use.

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