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AUGUSTA, ME - Eleven women legislators have pooled $850 to buy a new flagpole for a Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta. The legislators, all Republicans, said they were alerted that the cemetery needed need flagpoles and they decided to take action.

State Rep. Bonnie Gould organized the operation. "We thought we could make this small gesture of appreciation for the sacrifices made by our military veterans," she said. "This cemetery was established in 2001 and has been underfunded by the state. They needed 26 flagpoles to line the Avenue of Flags, leading to the chapel, so we all decided to pitch in for a good cause."

Overall, legislators contributed enough money to buy eight of the 30-foot aluminum poles, which will be installed by the Department of Facilities Engineering, based at Camp Keyes in Augusta. The flagpoles are scheduled to be up and operational by Memorial Day, according to State Rep. David Cotta (R-China), a retired Army helicopter pilot who spearheaded the project in the Legislature. Each pole will bear a small plaque with the names of the donors.

The women legislators, who jokingly refer to themselves as "the flag ladies," are Republican Reps. Bonnie Gould (South Berwick); Joan Nass (Acton); Jayne Giles (Belfast); Meredith Strang Burgess (Cumberland); Kimberley Rosen (Bucksport); Kerri Prescott (Topsham); Kathy Chase (Wells); Sue Austin (Gray); Donna Finley (Skowhegan); Sally Lewin (Eliot); and Roberta Muse (Fryeburg). Republican Sen. Christine Savage, of Union, also took part in the operation.

Photo caption: The flag ladies pose for a photo on the front steps of the State House. Pictured are (front row) Rep. Rosen; (second row) Rep. Austin, Rep. Giles, Rep. Gould, Rep. Muse, Rep. Prescott; (third row) Rep. Strang Burgess, Rep. Nass, Rep. Chase, Rep. Lewin; (back row) Rep. Finley. (Photo by Kerri L. Prescott)


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